If you had a tree fall on your house during last June's storms, you know it was a tough experience. But what if the tree was your house?
The storms were hard on wild animals as well as on humans. Nests were blown from trees, trees were blown down, dens and burrows were flooded. Many people tried to help.
Phil Jenni, executive director of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Roseville, offered suggestions for those who want to help injured animals in the wild:
Call first. If you're not sure if an animal is injured or can be saved, call the center at (651) 486-9453. Its staff will be able to tell you how to proceed.
Don't use your bare hands. Whether you're dealing with a bird, mammal or reptile you should protect your hands. Wear gloves when handling the animal. Baby birds are sometimes harder to handle. You can put a blanket over them and use that to scoop them up. If you do touch an animal with your bare hands, wash thoroughly after touching the animal.
Warm, dark and quiet. Once you've captured the animal, put it in a box with air holes in a warm, dark and quiet space.
Learning or injured? If you see a fledgling bird on the ground, it's likely learning how to fly and is not injured. If you see a baby bird on the ground without feathers, you can try putting it back in the nest. It is a myth that the mother will smell your scent on the baby and reject it. Jenni does not advise humans to interfere with nature, however. Adult animals will abandon babies that are not fully functional or have something wrong with them.
Helping a turtle cross the road. If you see a turtle in the middle of a busy road, you can try to help it by moving it to the side of the road. Always move the turtle to the side of the road toward which it's heading. Pick the turtle up by gripping the back end of the shell, in case it's a snapper and tries to bite you.
LEARN MORE ABOUT CARING FOR INJURED ANIMALS:
• Not all sick, injured, or orphaned animals require human intervention or rehabilitation.
It is important to minimize human impacts on animal populations. This often includes limiting human intervention during natural causes of animal injury or death (depredation, disease, storms, etc.). Interrupting food-web dynamics may result in cascading impacts on wildlife communities and ecosystem health. Dead or dying animals provide an important food source for many species of wildlife. While it is sometimes difficult to witness life and death in nature, a good phrase to keep in mind is, "If you care, leave it there." (Minnesota DNR)