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Before attempting to rescue a potentially injured or orphaned wild animal or calling the Calgary Wildlife, it is important to be sure that the animal actually needs help. Follow the steps below when you encounter a wild animal that may be injured or orphaned.

1. Observe the Wildlife from a Distance

Ensure that the wild animal is actually injured or orphaned. Watch the wild animal from a safe distance to determine if it is indeed injured or orphaned. It is best to leave a wild animal alone if it is not clearly in any immediate danger.


Is it orphaned/abandoned?

If you are not sure if the animal is orphaned, watch it from a distance so as not to frighten the parents from returning. Check the animal periodically for 24 to 48 hours to see if it is still around. DO NOT touch or remove the young animal unless you are absolutely certain that it is orphaned or in immediate danger. With some species, it is normal for parents to leave their offspring alone for extended periods of time. Many infant mammals are left on their own for extended periods of time while their parents are foraging for food. In many bird species, the offspring outgrow their nest and their parents continue to raise them on ground level. Many species return to their young near dusk and dawn.

A young animal that looks well-fed with bright eyes and clean fur or feathers is probably not orphaned.


Is it injured?

Wild animals might seem hurt if they are not moving. However, this behavior may simply be a natural survival tactic to keep predators away. Keep an eye out for other indicators that an animal is actually injured, such as:

  • Obvious wounds, swelling or bleeding

  • Limping

  • Dangling limb or wing

  • Problems standing or inability to stand

  • Trouble holding the head erect

  • Difficulty with breathing

  • Lethargy

  • Inability to see or react to stimuli

  • Emaciated

  • Uneven loss of fur or feathers

  • Signs of neurological trauma: seizures, walking in circles

  • Typically nocturnal animal is active during the daytime


2. Call for Help


When you have determined that a wild animal is truly orphaned or injured, it will need your help. Contact Calgary Wildlife (403-214-1312) or the City of Calgary 311 service for advice on how to proceed.

Our team will be able to help determine the best course of action. If calling after hours or during our busy season, please make sure you leave a voice message and our team will return your call as soon as possible.

You may bring the wild animal to VCA Canada Calgary Animal Referral & Emergency Centre (CARE) 24-hour clinic (403-520-8387). 

Vet clinics holding wildlife for Calgary Wildlife, please download a copy of our patient admission form here.

3. While Waiting for Help to Arrive


In some cases, you may need to carefully secure the animal and keep it safe while waiting for medical care to increase its chance of survival.
– Keep yourself safe. Injured animals are frightened and may think you are a predator. Use extreme care and caution when approaching any wild animal. If you must handle a wild animal, use protective gear such as eyewear and gloves.
– Keep the animal warm. Gently wrap the animal in a coat, blanket or towel. A cardboard box makes a great holding and carrying case and offers the animal a sense of security.
– Keep the animal calm. Once the wildlife is secured, it is important to keep them calm. Speak quietly, avoid loud sounds and sudden movements and keep them out of bright light. Do not speak to a wild animal the way you would a domestic animal. Silence is the best thing for the animal.
– If you are not comfortable handling the wild animal, wait for a trained Calgary Wildlife member. Some animals such as large mammals and birds of prey must only be handled by trained wildlife technicians.


Handling wild animals

It is illegal to care for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife in Alberta unless you are a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. To ensure the safety and health of people and wildlife, members of the public should generally avoid handling wildlife. Wild animals can inflict serious injury and can be carriers of disease and parasites that are transmittable to humans and domestic animals.

You should not attempt to assist an injured or orphaned animal if there is a risk to personal safety or to the safety of others. If you find an orphaned or injured wild animal, call Calgary Wildlife.

If the animal poses a threat to public health or safety, call the local animal control office or police department for assistance.


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