Wildlife Rescue and Rehabilitation
Around the world, wild animals are under increasing pressure from human activities. Loss of habitat through urban sprawl and development, increasing road traffic and impacts of climate change are just three ways we are negatively impacts wildlife populations. Humans have wiped out about 60% of the world’s wildlife populations in the last four decades.
In North America, nearly 80% of the human population resides in urban areas and associated expansive human-built features. Therefore a large proportion of the population often comes into contact with wild animals.
Wild animals are increasingly coming into contact with people as cities continue to sprawl into undeveloped regions. Many species of wild animal in urban areas are considered 'nuisance' and there is increasing human-wildlife conflict. This increasing conflict often results in wild animals needing rescuing and rehabilitating across North America.
What to Do if You Find Injured/Orphaned Wildlife
When to Rescue a Bird
If the bird is bleeding, shivering, lethargic, or unresponsive.
If the bird has been attacked by a cat or dog.
If the parents or siblings are known to be dead.
For more information on rescuing birds in Canada, visit the FLAP website.
To find a bird rescue centre in Ontario, visit the Ontario Wildlife Rescue website.
Rescuing Small Mammals in Canada
Often, small mammals get injured or become orphaned/permanently separated from their mom and need rescuing.
Please follow the flowchart below to find out what to do if you find small mammals in need of help.
Remember to ALWAYS wash your hands after handling wildlife and seek out immediate medical attention if you receive any bites or scratches from a wild animal.
Know Your Rights
Before phoning your local humane society/animal control, RESEARCH whether the humane society is a no-kill shelter and look for evidence that they have the capacity to care for wildlife.
Humane societies & animal control locations are often not geared for wildlife, and will often put them down if you take them there. Ask first! Read this story on Chloe's experience with Guelph Humane Society seizing 6 newborn raccoons for unnecessary euthanisation.
In Ontario, you have the legal right to take care of wildlife for 24 hours with the intent to hand the wildlife over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator [44(a)]. You are NOT required to hand over any wildlife to a humane society without the formal request from Public Health.
Visit Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry and Ontario Wildlife Rescue for more information.
Rescuing Large Mammals in Canada
Large mammals such as bears, moose and wolves, even if unwell and injured, could be dangerous to handle.
Speak to a rescue centre before attempting to help a large mammal.
For more information on rescuing large mammals in Canada, visit the Nature Canada website.
To find a large mammal resuce centre in Ontario, visit the Ontario Wildlife Rescue website and select 'Others'.
Rescuing Other Wild Animals in Canada
For information on rescuing other wild animal in Canada, visit the Nature Canada website.
To find a rescue centre for any wildlife in Ontario, visit the Ontario Wildlife Rescue website and select the animal you are seeking help for.
Rabies in Canada
Rabies is a viral infection that spreads through the nervous system of every creature it infects, including humans.
Once clinical symptoms appear, rabies is virtually 100% fatal. In up to 99% of cases, domestic dogs are responsible for rabies virus transmission to humans. Yet, rabies can affect both domestic and wild animals. It is spread to people and animals through bites or scratches, usually via saliva.
Rabies is established in certain populations of Canadian wildlife. These can spillover to domestic (livestock and pet) animals. Since 2000, the number of reported rabies-positive animals has declined due to control programs.
In Canada, the most common carriers of rabies are:
Raccoons (50 rabid raccoons were confirmed in southwestern Ontario in 2018)
Bats (31 rabid bats were reported in Ontario in 2018)
Skunks (21 rabid skunks were confirmed in southwestern Ontario in 2018)
Foxes (0 rabid foxes in southwestern Ontario in 2018)
It is important to note that Ontario's last domestic case of human rabies occurred in 1967. The risk of contracting rabies remains low and you should not be fearful of rabies as long as you protect yourself adequately.
If you are bitten or scratched by any wild animal that may have rabies, or seems sick and behaves strangely, it is crucial to begin preventative treatment for rabies as soon as possible. This includes washing the wound well and seeking medical care (Public Health).
For more information on rabies, visit the World Health Organisation website.
For more information on rabies in Canada, including number of new cases by Province, visit the Government of Canada website.