Animals you can no longer see

If you see an animal that is lost, injured or in need of help in another way but they are no longer or were never in sight, there are still several ways that you can safely help if needed.

If the animal can't be monitored and isn't likely to stay in the same location

In the case that the animal in question is not confined, monitored or likely to be at the location when an animal rescuer would arrive, we are unlikely to be able to help. Our team are extremely busy, and our animal rescuers' time and energy need to be used to rescue animals in the most urgent need of help.

We receive 100s of calls every day and our resources are limited so we must always attend to emergencies first. If however, you can monitor or confine the animal in question, there may be ways in which you can help.

How to best monitor an animal that you're concerned about

You can easily monitor an animal in need by checking on them every 15 minutes. To do this safely and calmly, approach quietly, check on the animal and then back away. If you've already been in touch, please report any significant changes in the animal's circumstance to us immediately.

For example, deterioration or death, an escape or any new movement. If you can't come back to find the animal because it's hazardous, for example, the animal is near a busy road or if you can't find the animal at a later date, please update us.

If the animal cannot be confined or monitored but is in urgent need of help

Ascertain why the animal cannot be monitored or confined. If it's due to the animal being fit healthy and lively, then it probably doesn't need rescuing! Remember - even if our team are on other jobs, there's always the option of monitoring or staying with the animal if you're still concerned.

If you can't monitor or confine the animal in question, what are the chances of the animal being there if they're left? Is the animal easy to find? Are there any good natural landmarks nearby that would help you remember where to find them? Make a note of any necessary directions so that you can check back later if you're concerned about the animal.

If appropriate and your own safety is not compromised, you can leave some sort of marker in the location. This 'marker' could be a plastic bag tied to a tree or a plastic bottle/drinks can/newspaper/branch.

If there is a serious welfare concern and our team needs to come to the scene, a maker will help our animal rescuers easily identify the correct location when they turn up in search of the animal. If you can, please download the what3words app and give us the specific location coordinates that the app generates.

In the situation that the animal in question is badly injured/unconscious, our animal rescuer will decide how best to act after receiving all relevant details.

When is confining an animal not necessary?

When the animal is in a situation where they cannot move, for example, they're trapped or severely injured, there's no need to confine them. In some circumstances, our animal rescuer will be able to help an animal if the caller is aware of the animal's location. It's important that the caller gets back in contact with us if the animal moves or disappears.

We will not be able to help if the location of the animal in question is unknown. If however, the animal in question is a daily visitor to a particular spot at the same time and there is a feeding regime in place we will be able to help but only if there is a serious welfare concern. Before calling our helpline, please ask yourself, is it an emergency?

If the animal can't be monitored or confined but they're a daily visitor

There are circumstances where very shy or timid animals (such as feral cats and foxes) become injured and are very difficult to confine. However, if the animal you're concerned about is a daily visitor to a particular spot at the same time and there is a feeding regime in place, it may still be possible for an officer to locate the animal.

You can help the animal rescuer you speak to by providing as much detail as possible about the situation. This would include location details as well as feeding timings. Again, this is only necessary for emergency situations.

How to create a feeding regime for an animal you are concerned about

In the situation that we advise you or any concerned member of the public to start a feeding regime in order to catch an animal that is in need of treatment, that person is not deemed as being responsible for the animal, even if the animal has become dependent.

If the animal is unlikely to stay in their current location but can be confined

Certain animals shouldn't be confined or handled by members of the public, these include:

  • An injured deer
  • Seal
  • Wild boar
  • Otter
  • Badger
  • Fox
  • Snake
  • Bird of prey (including owls)
  • Swan
  • Goose
  • Heron
  • Gull

Otherwise, if it's safe to do so and the animal has been successfully secured and you're able to take them to a vet, please do so. If the animal's in need of emergency assistance, and you can confine them but cannot move them, please leave the box somewhere we can easily collect in an area that our animal rescuers can easily access.

Please note that in the winter months, avian flu may be a problem, so please check our avian flu advice before taking any action.

Find out more

What to do with injured wild animals.

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