We took in nearly 230 wild animals in May alone!
Ann Arbor, MI (June 2, 2017) – You’ve seen puppies and kittens. But how about cubs, kits, pups, bunnies, and joeys? Chances are, if you haven’t seen them before, this year you will.
2017 has brought area wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators a slew of baby animals. Howell Nature Center reports they’ve taken in 20% more injured and orphaned juvenile waterfowl than this time last year, and the Humane Society of Huron Valley (HSHV) has taken in 10% more injured, sick and orphaned wildlife in April and May this year versus the same time in 2016.
“Baby season arrived early!” exclaimed Michele Baxter, HSHV’s Cruelty and Rescue Manager. “We’ve helped baby raccoons, ducklings, squirrels, rabbits, opossums—even a baby groundhog.”
Though HSHV is primarily known for helping cats and dogs, they’ve been aiding area wildlife for nearly 50 years. This year is extraordinary, though, as HSHV has seen 477 wildlife in 2017, 374 in April and May alone—and many juveniles.
See a video of 8 baby ducklings and their mom, who were trapped in the courtyard of a juvenile detention center before being rescued by HSHV May 9 and released in Parker Mills Park pond
“Most common are ducklings who fall down the sewer drains, opossums whose mother was hit by a car, and baby rabbits whose nests were discovered by dogs, cats, or someone mowing their lawn,” says Naomi Smith, Rescuer and Cruelty Investigator for HSHV. “Rabbits like to nest in open areas and dig a very shallow hole for their babies.”
HSHV would like to remind folks that it’s normal for wild animals to leave their babies in, what they deem, a safe spot for hours and hours—even all day—while they forage for food. If you don’t believe they’re injured, it’s best to just leave them alone and monitor from afar to see if an adult returns. If you place a few light twigs in an “X” over or sprinkle cornstarch around the nest, the next day, you can see whether there are footprints or the twigs have been moved.
“If they look warm and fed, they are most likely not abandoned,” says Smith. “But if they are wandering, vocalizing, or cold to the touch, they are most likely abandoned and in need of help.”
Baby birds are learning to fly now, too—prompting some compassionate people to worry when they see babies flailing about. Chances are, they’re okay. But if you’re worried, you can gently place them back in their nest. It’s a myth that touching baby birds will deter the adults. But do fight that urge to feed them.
“Despite people’s best intentions, unless it’s a kitten, giving an orphaned wild animal milk, water or food can often do more harm than good,” Smith says. “If the animal appears to be an abandoned baby in immediate danger, and it’s safe for you to do so, place the animal in a dark, warm, quiet place while you wait for professional advice.”
Residents may also see young fawns alone, out in the open, and seemingly abandoned. But a lone fawn who is not walking is not necessarily orphaned or sick and may not need rescuing.
“There are countless tragic cases of ‘fawn kidnapping’ by those who mistakenly believe they are helping. In most cases, they should just be left alone. Mother deer leave their babies for most of the day so as not to attract predators, returning only at dusk and dawn for feeding,” says Tanya Hilgendorf, HSHV’s CEO and President. “However, if you believe a mother has been hit by a car and is not returning to provide care, please call HSHV’s rescue line for assistance.”
Whether injured or not, it is important to keep baby animals warm. Being in a warm, dark, quiet place can help animals that are in shock. A warm water bottle, heating pad or even warmed up, uncooked rice in a sock can do the trick. Just be sure to put the heat source to one side so that the animal can get away from it if it gets too warm, and place a barrier like a paper towel or a cloth towel over the source so that it doesn’t touch the animal directly.
If you find sick, injured or abandoned wildlife in Washtenaw County, call HSHV’s rescue hotline, funded solely by private donations: (734) 661-3512. All messages will be returned.
About The Humane Society of Huron Valley:
The Humane Society of Huron Valley, located in Ann Arbor, is an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and relies solely on the generosity of our supporters to provide critical community programs and services. HSHV is an award-winning organization, recognized for our best practices and highest animal “save-rate” among all similar shelters in Michigan. Charity Navigator, the nation’s top charity evaluator, awarded HSHV a 4-star ranking, the highest possible. The mission of HSHV is to promote the loving, responsible care of all animals in our community. HSHV is not affiliated with any other humane organization and does not receive funding from the United Way. More information can be found on HSHV’s website (hshv.org) and on our annual report (www.hshv.org/annualreport).