What to do with injured wild animals

If you find an injured wild animal, watch it first to see how badly hurt it is. Then if possible take it to a nearby vet or wildlife rehabilitator (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal).

It's often faster to take an animal to a vet or wildlife rehabilitator yourself as our nearest officer may be out of the area attending other calls.

Find a wildlife rehabilitator

If you're unable to transport the animal and cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator who is able to help, contact us about an animal in distress. If possible, contain the animal before calling.

Be careful when approaching wild animals, they can scratch and bite when frightened, particularly if they're injured. If in doubt, keep a safe distance and call us on 0300 1234 999.

Who to call for certain animals

The following animals can't be handled or transported by the public:

  • an injured deer
  • seal
  • wild boar
  • otter
  • badger
  • fox
  • snake
  • bird of prey (including owls)
  • swan
  • goose
  • heron
  • gull.

If you see one, keep a safe distance and call us on 0300 1234 999.

Found a whale, dolphin or porpoise

If you find a whale, dolphin or porpoise on a beach call us or the BDMLR immediately. Keep a safe distance and don't touch the animal.

Animals in traps

Never try to free an animal from a snare or trap - you risk hurting yourself and the animal and it could be an offence if the animal was legally caught.

Stay back to avoid stressing the animal and call us with the location.

Found a dead bird

If you see a dead bird, please report it to the Garden Wildlife Health Project.

Garden Wildlife Health has produced fact sheets on diseases affecting British birds such as Trichomonosis, Avian pox and Salmonellosis

If you need to handle an injured animal

Only lift a wild animal if you're sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others. Make sure you also keep the animal away from your face.

Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife - pollutants like oil can be hazardous. Wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal as well.

Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road. Watch from a distance first to see whether the animal is still alive, call for help if you can't reach it safely.

Found a sick or injured grey squirrel

New law for grey squirrels

A new law 'The Invasive Alien Species (Enforcement and Permitting) Order 2019' means that it's no longer possible to rehabilitate and release grey squirrels, even if they've been injured and treated. Therefore sadly in some cases, the best option will be humane euthanasia to end the animals suffering.

How you should help

If they're trapped, for example in your house or caught in a bird feeder, the law still permits freeing the animal and releasing where found. For animals with only minor injuries, it's best to leave them in the wild.

If you find an injured or sick squirrel contact your local vet. This is usually the quickest way to get help as our officers may be out attending other calls. If they're unavailable, please contact us and we'll do our best to help.

Be careful handling squirrels

Squirrels have sharp teeth and can be extremely fast, therefore caution should be taken in attempting to confine a squirrel. If you're advised to confine an injured or sick squirrel, this should be done wearing suitable thick gloves, and by quickly placing the squirrel into a secure metal or plastic pet carrier with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.

Capture and boxing injured wildlife

If it's safe to catch and handle the animal, then, wearing suitable gloves, quickly place it into a secure cardboard box with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.

Keep the animal quiet and take it to a vet (call first to make sure they can take and treat the animal), one of our wildlife centres or your local wildlife rehabilitator, (but note not all have been inspected by us).  If you are unable to transport the animal, call 0300 1234 999.

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