In South Louisiana, it is not uncommon to encounter wildlife every now and then. It is especially common to see baby wildlife more frequently in the springtime. Spotting a baby animal does not necessarily mean that they are in need of help. Wild animals typically do not need human assistance unless it is a baby that has been orphaned or it is an animal of any age that is clearly injured.
Birds and mammals, such as rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, skunks, opossums and bats, usually keep their distance from humans and companion animals; therefore, interaction is rare. However, an up-close and personal encounter may take place if a wild animal is injured or if a baby is separated from its mother for whatever reason.
If someone comes across an injured animal or an animal clearly in distress, it is best to call the parish animal shelter, as they will be able to get the animal to the proper wildlife agency for care.
The old saying “If you touch a baby bird, the mother will reject it” is simply not true. However, if a baby bird is found on the ground, is fully feathered and looks to be alert and fine, it is likely trying to learn to fly and the mother is probably nearby. If a baby bird is in the yard, it is best to keep the dogs and cats indoors for a while until the bird to leaves the area. If there are safety concerns due to it being a high-traffic area, etc., then place the baby bird in a nearby bush or on a tree branch. If the situation is one in which a very young baby bird has fallen out of the nest and can be placed back in, please do so. If the baby appears to be injured or cold, it should not be placed back in the nest and help should be called.
If an adult bird or pigeon is on the ground and can be approached, it is likely injured and needs medical attention.
For mammals, it is important to not handle any wild animals, as some carry rabies, they can be vicious and may bite out of fear or pain. Calling a professional is best if an injured animal is found.
If a baby squirrel is found, it may have just fallen out of the tree and should be left alone and observed from a distance. The mother is likely nearby and will help her baby back up the tree. If it is determined that the mother is not coming back, the baby needs to be kept warm and fed squirrel formula. This can be purchased from a vet. Once a baby squirrel is old enough, it should be released back outdoors. While the babies are wonderful, they are not always nice adults and may become vicious.
A box or sheet can be used to catch or contain an injured bird or mammal, but it is not wise to touch any wildlife with bare hands. Please contact your parish animal shelter immediately for assistance with injured or orphaned wildlife.
ADOPTION EVENT: During April, the Louisiana SPCA is reducing adoption fees by $50 for all cats and dogs that are at least 1 year old. Adoption hours are from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at the SPCA, 1700 Mardi Gras Blvd., New Orleans. For information, visit la-spca.org or call (504) 368-5191.
SPAY/NEUTER DISCOUNTS: The Louisiana SPCA Community Clinic is offering $20.15 spay/neuter surgeries through August for all pets residing in Orleans Parish. In addition, microchips will be available at a reduced fee of $10 in conjunction with a spay/neuter surgery or wellness visit, and T-N-R for feral cats will be reduced to $10. Call (504) 363-1333 or visit www.la-spca.org/communityclinic.
PET ADOPTION EVENT: The Louisiana SPCA will hold a neighborhood pet adoption event from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 11, at the Neighborhood Pet Market by Jefferson Feed, 309 N. Carrollton Ave., New Orleans. For information, call (504) 368-5191 or visit la-spca.org.
LOST OR FOUND PETS: In Orleans Parish, you can send a photo, description of your pet, date lost/found and your contact information to email@example.com. In Jefferson Parish, email firstname.lastname@example.org and bbourgeois @jeffparish.net, and in St. Bernard Parish, email email@example.com.
Traci D. Howerton is social media editor of Animal Rescue New Orleans, a nonprofit, volunteer-based, no-kill shelter. Contact ARNO at animalrescuecolumn@ gmail.com, www.animal rescueneworleans.org or call its recorded information line at (504) 571-1900.