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What To Do With Injured Wildlife

We at Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke have found that our neighbors in southwestern Virginia are very concerned about wildlife, so we want to provide some guidelines to help people make the right decision.

Here are some general rules which apply to birds and mammals:

  • If you see blood, an obvious injury, or if attacked by a dog or cat (even if the contact was minimal!), call us.
  • Never offer food or water to wildlife you find.
  • Virginia law forbids keeping wildlife, but does provide for a 48 hour Good Samaritan exemption until you can bring it to a licensed rehabber.
  • If it is a small mammal or bird, pick it up gently, and put it in a box lined with paper towels or finely-woven cloth (like a pillowcase). Then put a secure lid on the box, and place it in a warm, quiet room where it will be safe from cats, dogs, and children.
  • Birds: During the spring and summer, if you see a small, feathered bird hopping about, tail feathers ½ inch or longer, it is ‘fledging’; learning to fly. Keep an eye on it but stay out of sight. The parent will often make quick trips to feed the youngster. But, if there are no parental visits in an hour of non-stop watching, call us. If the bird is not feathered or has very little feathers, call us.
  • If a bird hits a window and cannot fly, put it in a small box [as above]; check in one hour, if able to fly well, release; if not, call us.
  • Raptors [Hawks, Owls]: Observe any raptor you see on the ground. Unless eating, he shouldn’t remain there. Occasionally, a hawk will eat too much and be unable to lift off. Watch for an hour; call us if still there. Seeing owls during the daytime probably indicates the animal is in trouble.
  • Mammals: If you see baby squirrels on the ground, call us to discuss the best solution.
  • If a small squirrel comes up to you, put it in a small, covered box, and call us.
  • If you find a baby rabbit with an injury, call the center. Otherwise, with uninjured baby rabbits, which are often found while mowing or weed-whacking, try to find its ground-nest; it’s a small scooped-out area. Put them back, cover with grass; mom will be back during dawn and dusk to feed them.
  • Fawns, like rabbits, are left alone for a large part of the day, and finding a baby fawn is not a cause for alarm. If you find a baby fawn with an injury or if it is covered in flies, call the center. Otherwise, leave the fawn alone.

We are the Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke; 540-798-9836 [], the only permitted wildlife veterinary hospital in all of southwest Virginia, located in Roanoke County. We are a not-for-profit organization whose mission it is to further the environment and ecology of the Roanoke Valley through public education and the rehabilitation of wildlife indigenous to southwestern Virginia. T

he Executive Director is Sabrina Garvin with over seventeen years of experience in wildlife rehabilitation. We depend on donations from the public. If you find an injured, orphaned or sick mammal, reptile, or bird, call us. We will discuss the best way to deal with the animal, and bring it in to our facility if needed.

Elizabeth Haley Olsen-Hodges – Senior staff – Southwest Virginia Wildlife Center of Roanoke




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