If you find an injured wild animal, watch it for a short while to find out how badly hurt it really is. Then either contact the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999 or find a vet or wildlife rehabilitator near you. If possible, contain the animal before calling – (see capture and boxing advice below). Read on for more advice about what todo in specific circumstances.
Capture and boxing
If it’s safe to catch and contain the animal this should be done very carefully. Make sure you use gloves and keep the animal away from your face. A secure cardboard box with ventilation holes and lined with a towel or newspaper is ideal. Keep the contained animal as quiet as possible and either take it to a vet, an RSPCA wildlife centre, or call the RSPCA on 0300 1234 999. You can also take the animal to your nearest wildlife rehabilitator, but note that these will not all have been approved by the RSPCA.
Handling any animal – whether it is domestic, wild, dead or alive – is potentially hazardous. Obvious dangers include bites, scratches and general hygiene issues such as disease transmission.
Whenever handling wild animals you should wear gloves and hold the animal away from your face and those of others.
Always use common sense and, if unsure, seek additional advice or assistance. Personal hygiene should be taken into consideration after handling any animal.
I have found an injured…
…….animal by the side of the road
This can be a very dangerous situation, especially on busy or fast roads. Don’t do anything that will put you or anyone else at risk. If you can, watch the animal from a distance. Try to see whether it’s still alive. If the animal moves away, watch where it goes. Don’t try and stop it – it will be very stressed and might cause you or itself further injury. If safe to do so, pick the animal up and contain it as described above. If the animal is alive but you can’t contain it, call the RSPCA or WCO to report your location. In this situation it is probably advisable to call the Police, who can assist with traffic control or possible road closure if needed. Do not get out of your car on busy motorways or dual carraigeways!
……animal on the beach
If you find an oiled bird and it is safe to pick it up, make sure you’re wearing gloves – not only can the bird injure you but the oil could be hazardous to your health. See the capture and boxing advice above. If there are numerous strandings of oiled birds then call the Police immediatley as due to the health hazards this could be deemed a major incident.
If the animal is a seal or whale, don’t get too close and call the RSPCA immediately.
……..animal in a snare or trap
As upsetting as this situation is, never try and free the animal yourself. You might hurt yourself or the animal even more, and may actually commit an offence if the snare has been legally set. Stay well back to avoid stressing the animal further and call the PWCO or RSPCA to report the animal’s location. If you happen to have a camera with you, it would also be useful to take some photographs of the scene.
……..animal tangled up in fishing line
Don’t try and free the animal yourself – you could end up hurting it even more. Call the RSPCA and report the animal’s location. If there are wardens or water bailiffs responsible for the site, let them know so they can clear up the litter. If you are aware that the netting was set illegally then inform your local WCO.
………bird in my garden
Unfortunately cats kill many wild animals every year, especially young birds. Birds that have been caught by cats are often found on the ground and may not show any obvious injuries. However, wounds can become infected so the bird will need veterinary treatment. See the capture and boxing advice above. If you think the bird has been injured illegally either by shooting or trapping, then call your local WCO.
Another common cause of injuries is birds flying into windows. Unfortunately they don’t always see panes of glass but you can help by putting bird of prey silhouettes on the windows. If you find a bird that you think has hit a window, it might need veterinary treatment. Sometimes though, they are just stunned and can recover on their own, given time. If there’s no sign of recovery in a couple of hours or so, then you need to help. See capture and boxing advice above.
Other causes of injury
Some birds, like swans, can hit power lines because they don’t see them. Any bird that has hit a power line will need immediate treatment so call the RSPCA. Be aware of dangers from damaged cables and the injured bird! Other animals, such as deer, can get trapped on wire fences. Don’t try and untangle them yourself – let the RSPCA know as soon as you can.
Litter can pose a significant problem to wild animals and birds that can get trapped or entangled. Sometimes it is a matter of freeing the individual and letting it go back to the wild but in some cases treatment and care is required. If this is the case, read the capture and boxing section above.
(above amended from RSPCA website 2013)
Defra Code of Practice on the Use of Snares in Fox and Rabbit Control
This is not a statutory code but is rather a document which lays down best practice. It also details the legislative provisions in this area. This Code of Practice on the use of snares is based on the Code of Good Practice developed in 2005 by the Independent Working Group on Snares (IWGS). Details about the IWGS, the background to its work, and the review of snaring it undertook in the development of this document are available in the Report of the Independent Working Group on Snares (2005) (see section on Further Information).
If you find an animal caught in a snare
Call the RSPCA‘s 24-hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 immediately. If possible, arrange to meet with whoever attends so that you can guide them directly to the injured animal. Please do not attempt to release the animal yourself. The animal may injure you, or it may suffer further injuries itself. It may even escape with the snare still in place, and die a lingering death.
If you find a live badger in a snare
Contact the Badger Trust on 020 7228 6444 and call the RSPCA’s 24-hour national cruelty and advice line on 0300 1234 999 immediately. Say exactly where you have found the snared animal. If possible, arrange to meet with whoever attends to investigate, so that you can take them to the casualty. Badgers are strong animals and are not used to being handled, so if you try to touch an injured badger, you may be bitten. Please do not interfere with the victim, leave the body exactly as you found it so that the evidence can be fully recorded.
If you find a snare
Take a photograph (if you don’t have a camera use your mobile phone) and record its exact location and contact the RSPCA if there is a live animal in the trap or police wildlife crimes officer if you believe the snare to be illegal.
Report a Snaring Incident
We are proud to have a superb working relationship with the RSPCA in Cornwall but the RSPCA has very limited resources in Devon and Cornwall and whilst they are without doubt the correct people to contact if there is an animal welfare issue, they do not have powers of arrest or some search powers that the police do, so please report all snare incidents your local WCO on the non-emergency phone line 101 or e-mail:
(source: adapted from National Anti-Snare Campaign website)
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