Independent TribuneColumns How to rescue wildlife babies

How to rescue wildlife babies

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Melody Bell Wilkes
A Walk in the Woods

A Walk in the Woods would like to thank Mary Morrison for submitting this month’s wildlife article. She is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator with the Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas
As spring approaches, the wildlife in our area will once again begin the timeless ritual of finding a mate and raising young. The Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas (ARC) is requesting your help, on behalf of these wild creatures, should you or your friends come across an orphaned, injured or #### wild animal.

Our native wildlife has suffered increasingly from rapid urbanization, the depletion of un-committed land where our wildlife lives and the diversion of natural water supplies. 
As a result, the number of animals rehabilitated by the ARC volunteers increases annually, as does our need for volunteers. 

Many times when the wild animal is not in need of assistance, human intervention actually creates a problem. Most people are unaware of the fact that it is against state and federal law to have a wild animal in their possession. Even more important, they do not have the facilities or training to provide care for the animal they are trying to help.  Call the ARC hotline 704-552-2329, if you need assistance with wildlife or are interested in volunteer opportunities. Visit http://www.arcwildlife.org for additional information.

Does this baby need help? 
During the spring, you may find babies that have been left alone in a nest or den. Some wildlife mothers (rabbits and deer) hide separately from their young and return only to feed their babies. Others must leave their babies alone while they go out to find food. Occasionally, babies will get dropped or fall from a tree. The mothers (except opossums) will return for a baby even if a person has touched it.  If possible, it is best to reunite the baby with its mother. If the baby appears uninjured and healthy, return it to its nest or den. Mothers will not return if any people or pets are present. If the mother does not return or if the baby animal is #### or hurt, call ARC for advice. 

How to rescue wildlife babies
If it is determined the animal needs assistance, then:

• Place a soft cloth with no strings or loops in the bottom of a box. The strings can get wrapped around the baby. Loops can break nails. If the box does not have air holes, make some.
• Before you pick up the baby, put on gloves. Some babies will bite and wearing gloves will protect you from fleas, ticks or lice.
• Pick the animal up and gently place it in the box. Cover the box with a lid. 
• Place a heating pad set on “low” under a corner of the box, or a plastic bottle filled with hot water and wrapped in a cloth in the box. Be sure that the bottle does not leak.
• Place the box in a quiet, dark room. Do not handle it or allow children or pets near it.
• Do not give the baby any food or water. Call ARC to locate a volunteer in your area.
• Wash your hands. Also wash anything that has come in contact with the baby. 

For those of you who are not familiar with the organization, ARC is a non-profit corporation manned entirely by volunteers who hold the appropriate state and federal permits, and have the training to care for wildlife.  There is no charge to an individual bringing a wild animal that requires care, however, we are funded through donations alone. ARC’s purpose is to provide the proper nutritional needs and medical care for the animal’s recovery and release back into the wild.
One way to volunteer is to become a wildlife rehabilitator. ARC holds three classes per year, early spring, summer and fall. To learn more about the classes, contact Sherry Johnson at 803-548-4604.

Melody Bell Wilkes is the owner of A Walk in the Woods, an environmental education company that provides child friendly outreach wildlife programs. For more information call 704-436-9048 or visit http://www.awalkinthewoods.us


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