If you have found an injured or orphaned animal, please contact the following organizations. Only licensed wildlife rehabilitators may legally care for Michigan wildlife.
DAWG Rescue - Located in Romeo, this animal rescue also have their wildlife rehabbers license. Call them at 586-354-8500.
(Ann Arbor) : 734-913-9843 (recording) - For a list of animal type specific numbers to call, please visit their website.
Howell Nature Center -
Phone - 517-546-0249
Fax - 517-546-1677
1005 Triangle Lake Road, Howell, MI 48843
Hours of operation - 8:00 to 4:30 Monday - Friday
9:00 to 3:00 Saturday & Sunday
Wildlife Infirmary - 517-548-5530
Michigan Wildlife Contacts
Before you decide to rescue a wild animal in need, please first consider that the animal might not be in true need. Each spring and summer, millions of baby birds, squirrels, fawns and other wild animals are born into the world. Their parents are programmed to take care of them. But when humans and wildlife occupy the same habitat, it is not unusual for the public to come upon one of these babies.
Many of the babies that fall into the hands of rehabilitators are not in need or rescue, but have been taken away as their parents watch quietly from a hidden location. And while many wildlife rehabilitators are trained to provide the best care possible, no one can do as good a job as “mom” and very effort should be made to reunite a healthy baby with its parents.
So, how do you discern whether or not a baby animal is in need of rescue? Below are some tips on advising the public on how to proceed when deciding to rescue or not to rescue wildlife.
It’s a myth that birds abandon their young if a person touches them. Unlike other animals, birds are not sensitive to the human scent.
Baby birds that are not well-feathered and juvenile squirrels should be re-nested.
Fully feathered fledglings (baby birds that haven’t learned to fly) require a different approach in reuniting them with their parents. Place the fledgling on a nearby branch off the ground or back in the vicinity where it was originally found and leave the area. Listen or look for an adult calling to its baby. Watch to ensure the parents find the bird.
Outside cats are in every neighborhood. This is not enough reason alone to intervene. Keep cats and dogs indoors during this time, or turn on sprinklers to keep neighbor’s pets away. If the parents are not seen returning to the baby after 3 hours, then consider the baby orphaned.
Any lone duckling(s) or goslings(s) will require a licensed wildlife rehabilitator’s help - A mother duck or goose provides waterproofing, warmth and protection for her young. So without her presence, lone downy ducklings or gosling will certainly perish.
If you find a nest of baby rabbits and the nest is intact and the babies uninjured, leave them alone. Mother rabbits only visit their young 2-3 times a day to avoid attracting predators. If the rabbit nest has been disturbed, or if you think the babies are orphaned, recover the nest with surrounding natural materials such as grass and leaves.
Put an “X” of sticks or yarn over the nest to assess if the mother is returning to nurse her young. If the “X” is moved but the nest is still covered by the next day, the mother has returned to nurse the babies.
If the “X” remains undisturbed for 24 hours, contact a wildlife rehabilitator near you.
Try not to touch the babies, as mother rabbits are very sensitive to foreign smells and may abandon their young. A rabbit who is four inches long with open eyes and erect ears is independent from his mother and able to fend for himself.
Any opossum that is smaller than the size of a 6-week old kitten is in need of rescue. - Opossum babies become active between 2-3 moths of age. This is the time when they venture from the pouch, and may accidentally fall off and get ”left behind” by mom. There is no reuniting it with the mother. At this age, they will lack the skill needed for survival and need care.
If the baby raccoon has been seen alone for more than a few hours, he’s probably been orphaned. Mother raccoons closely supervise their young and don’t let them out of their sight. You can put an upside-down laundry basket over the baby (with a weight on top) and monitor him for a few hours. If the mother does not return, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator.
If you see a baby skunk running around a yard or neighborhood all alone, there's a chance he is orphaned. You may even see a line of baby skunks, nose to tail, running around by themselves—its likely they’re become separated from their mother.
Skunks have poor eyesight, so if something scares a mother skunk and she runs off, her babies can quickly lose sight of her. In these circumstances, we recommend monitoring the situation for an hour or two to see if the mother appears. You can also put on gloves and slowly place a plastic laundry basket upside down over the skunks to keep them in one spot and make it easier for the mother to find them.
Be aware that skunks spray to protect themselves from quickly moving threats such as dogs—if you move slowly and speak softly, it's unlikely that you will be sprayed. If alarmed, skunks give a warning by stamping their front feet. So, if a skunk doesn’t stamp, she's probably not concerned, and you may proceed. If no mother appears to retrieve her young, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
People often mistakenly assume that a baby deer, called a fawn, is orphaned if found alone or in an usual place. A doe will only visit and nurse her fawn a few times a day to avoid attracting predators. Unless you know the mother is dead, leave the fawn alone.
Mother deer are wary of human smells. If you have already handled the fawn, take a towel, rub it in the grass, and then wipe down the fawn to remove all human scent. Then return the fawn to the place where you found him.
If the fawn is lying on his side, or wandering and crying incessantly, he may be orphaned. If this is the case, call a wildlife rehabilitator in your area. But remember: a fawn found alone and quiet is okay.
Deer sometimes leave their fawns in the oddest places, perhaps on a porch or in the middle of a back
yard. If a fawn looks healthy and is resting peacefully, then everything is probably fine. The mother will not reject the fawn due to human scent; it is best not to touch it. If dogs pose a risk, they should remain inside until mom has had a chance to relocate the fawn.
Fawns that have mistakenly been removed can be returned to their mothers if taken back to where they were found within 12 hours. If a fawn is accidentally startled, return the fawn to the area in which it was found and it will usually locate the mother by itself.
If tree work was recently done and the nest or baby fell down as a result, give the mother squirrel a chance to reclaim her young. If the baby is uninjured, leave him where he is, then leave the area and keep people and pets away. Monitor from a safe distance.
If the baby is not retrieved by sundown, contact a local wildlife rehabilitator. If it’s chilly outside, or the baby isn’t fully furred, place him in a shallow box with something warm underneath (like a heating pad on a low setting or a hot water bottle) so he doesn’t get cold and compromised while waiting for his mother to return. Do not cover the squirrel with leaves or blankets, as the mother may not be able to find him. Note: A squirrel who is nearly full sized, has a full and fluffy tail and is able to run, jump, and climb is independent.
Please remember, the goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to provide professional care to the sick, inured and orphaned wild animals so they can ultimately be returned to their natural habitats. Any animal that is obviously sick or injured, has been caught by a cat or dog, has flies or ants on it, needs additional care and should be taken to a wildlife rehabilitator. However, wildlife parents have an extremely strong instinct to care for their young and are not deterred easily from their babies, despite disturbances or being touched by humans. Animal care professionals can play a valuable part in helping the public discern whether a wild animal truly need help, so that resources remain for the wildlife truly in need or rescue.