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).

Find a wildlife rehabilitator

If you're unable to transport the animal and cannot find a wildlife rehabilitator who's able to help, contact us. If possible, contain the animal before calling, but first read our guidance on how to handle it safely, below.

Be careful when approaching wild animals, as 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.

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

How to handle an injured animal

  • Weigh up the risks: only lift a wild animal if you're sure that you can do so without risk to yourself or others. 
  • Keep the animal away from your face, as they may bite or scratch.
  • Wear gloves when handling all wild animals, especially oiled wildlife - pollutants like oil can be hazardous. 
  • Always wash your hands thoroughly after handling an animal.
  • Take care in dangerous locations, such as a busy road. Watch from a distance first to see whether the animal is still alive, and call for help if you can't reach it safely.

Do not handle or transport the following animals - call us instead:

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

If you see any of these animals injured, keep a safe distance and call us on 0300 1234 999.

Catching and boxing injured wildlife

If it's safe to catch and handle the animal, then put on some suitable gloves and 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.

If you're unable to transport the animal, call 0300 1234 999.

Who to call for certain animals

Found a dead bird?

If you see a dead bird, please report it to the Garden Wildlife Health Project, and have a look at their factsheets on diseases affecting British birds, such as Trichomonosis, Avian pox and Salmonellosis

Found a whale, dolphin or porpoise?

If you find a whale, dolphin or porpoise on a beach, keep a safe distance and do not touch them. Call us or the BDMLR immediately.  

If the animal is dead, please report it to the Strandings Hotline: 0800 652 0333.

Found a sick or injured grey squirrel?

By law, we can no longer 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 animal's suffering. However, you may be able to help:

  • Free them if they're trapped, for example in your house or caught in a bird feeder, as 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.
  • Call the vet if you find an injured or sick squirrel. 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 - they have sharp teeth and can be extremely fast, so take care when trying to confine a sick or injured squirrel. Wear thick gloves and quickly place the squirrel into a secure metal or plastic pet carrier with ventilation holes, lined with a towel or newspaper.

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.

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