With summer upon us, the temptation to get outdoors and explore the wilds is pretty much inevitable.

The world is teeming with renewed life and without fail the urge to get out and enjoy the natural beauty of our area is irresistible.

But what happens when you’re out and about and find an orphaned or injured animal in the wild? Many of us don’t know. After all, it’s not a common occurrence. Do you know what to do or whom to call? How do you know when to help and when to walk away?

Thankfully, our community has a tremendous resource when it comes to helping wildlife in distress. The Howell Conference and Nature Center’s Wildlife Rehabilitation program offers the injured and orphaned wildlife in our area a fighting chance for recovery and release.

If you find and injured or orphaned wild animal, please call the Howell Conference and Nature Center’s Wildlife Helpline at 517-548-5530.

What To Do

When you encounter an injured or orphaned wild animal, it is only natural to want to help. However, it is of the utmost importance that you take the precautions necessary to protect both yourself and the animal. Often—if not always—this means not attempting to touch or move the animal. Remember, animals that are scared or in pain often attack as a means of self-defense.

If you do find an animal in distress it’s best to call the Wildlife Helpline at 517-548-5530 and request professional assistance for the animal. The Wildlife Rehabilitation program’s professional staff can advise you on the best course of action and send assistance if necessary.

What to Know

It is not uncommon to see a baby wild animal on its own in the wild. Never assume an animal has been orphaned unless it is obvious (meaning you see the carcass of the parent in the immediate vicinity, and are certain there is not another parent nearby).

In most cases, it is best to leave young or baby animals alone, even if they appear to be in distress, you never know if its parent is on the way. If it’s obvious that help is needed, please call the Wildlife Helpline immediately and let the experts know where help is needed and why.

Other signs that a wild animal may need the assistance of the experts at the Wildlife Rehabilitation program are as follows:

    • Apparent or obvious broken limbs

    • Evidence of traumatic bleeding

    • A featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground

  • Your pet presents the animal to you (or leads you to it with a sense of urgency)

Again, if you do find a wild animal in need of assistance, call the Howell Conference and Nature Center’s Wildlife Helpline at 517-548-5530 for help and please, keep yourself safe.