FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

1. I've found a wild animal with a definite sign of injury, what do I do?

If the injured animal is a small bird or mammal and can be safely contained then find an appropriate sized container, box or small animal cage etc., and using a towel or cloth, lift the animal into the container. Make sure the lid is closed tightly and there are some air holes or other means of ventilation. Place the container in a warm quiet spot and contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre. If the animal is a larger bird, bird of prey, or mammal, please contact your nearest wildlife rehabilitation centre for advice on how to proceed with the animal each situation can be different and many larger wild birds and mammals can be dangerous if approached. Please contact our Care Centre at 604.526.7275 for more information.

2. I don't drive, or am unable to bring an animal to WRA, what do I do?

Unfortunately WRA does not have the resources to maintain and staff an outgoing rescue and pick-up service. Thus we rely on members of the public to bring injured wildlife to our centre. We do have several transport volunteers who may be available to help with pick-ups, but this service is not always available. Please contact our Care Centre at 604.526.7275 for more information and to learn if a pick-up can be arranged.

3. I've found an injured domestic animal, what do I do?

As per our operating permits, WRA cannot accept or treat domestic animals. Please contact your local SPCA or animal shelter for further direction.

4. I've found a dead wild animal, what do I do?

In many cities it is illegal to put dead animals (or even animal droppings!) into the garbage. Try calling your municipal pound to see if the municipality handles dead animal pick up. If not, please contact WRA at 604.526.7275 and a rehabilitator will help you find a solution. If you are finding multiple dead animals, or if you find an animal you suspect has died due to cruelty (i.e. illegal shooting, trapping etc.), then please call WRA at 604.526.7275 or contact your local SPCA.

5. I've found a baby bird on the ground, what do I do?

Many young birds naturally come to the ground when they grow a little too large for the nest. This is called “fledging”. Depending on the species of bird, this period can last for up to two weeks. The young birds learn to forage for food and exercise their muscles for flight. While it can be dangerous, they also learn important skills such as predator recognition. If the bird has most of its feathers, is otherwise active and alert, and is moving around well on its feet, it is most likely a fledgling bird and should be left where it is. You can always gently “shoo” the bird to a bit of cover to help keep it safe from predators.

6. I've found a nest of baby birds but don't see the parents, what do I do?

Parent birds are often out foraging to feed their hungry young. It is best if you watch the nest closely for a period of about an hour. Most species should return within a one-hour window to check and feed their young. If you do not see any adult birds after a couple hours of observation, the orphans should be brought in to care at that time. Please contact WRA at 604.526.7275 for further instructions.

7. I've found mammals living under my house, porch or shed, what do I do?

This is a common occurrence around large urban areas. Many mammals find that areas under human dwellings are relatively quiet, sheltered from the weather, dark during the day and usually close to a good food source in the form of garbage or gardens. There are several ways you can convince them to move along, however. Since the mammals are looking for a dark, quiet place to spend the day, you can take away these qualities by shining a light source into the area (portable automotive maintenance lights work well), by playing a portable radio on a talk station into the area, and finally by making the area smell unappealing. Mammals rely heavily upon their sense of smell and dislike sharp smells. Take an ice cream or yoghurt container, place an inch or two of bleach in the bottom and put a rag or other cloth into the liquid to help it evaporate. Next put the lid back on, and it’s usually a good idea to tape the lid down, and puncture air holes into the lid. Place the container as close as you can to where the animal is denning. The evaporating bleach will not harm the animal but it will make the area an unpleasant place to be and usually it will move along. Remember to close up the area with wire mesh (hardware cloth) after the animals have left to prevent them from coming back.

8. I've found birds nesting in my vents or chimney, what do I do?

If it is summertime, and you don’t need to use the chimney, you can let the birds finish nesting in the space and then clean it out once they are done. If the birds are still in the process of building the nest, you can simply dismantle what they have started and give the area a good clean. Be vigilant and they will move along to a better location. If the nest has eggs or young, and must be moved for safety reasons, you can build a ledge with some cover (board mounted above it) just outside of the vent or chimney and carefully move the entire nest structure. There is a chance that the parents will reject the nest, but usually they will continue to incubate or rear their young.

9. A bird is stuck in my chimney, what do I do?

If a bird is stuck in a chimney, with no sign of a nest, it is probably trying to get out. Since birds are visually orientated, they will often go to the nearest light source. If you can shine some lights from the base of the chimney up, they bird may come down to investigate and find its way out. Alternatively, if possible, you can lower a rope down the chimney and a bird may latch onto the rope and climb out. Please call the Wildlife Rescue Association at 604.526.7275 for further advice if the above suggestions do not work.

10. A bird flew into my house or place of business and won't leave, what do I do?

Birds are visually orientated and will use their sight to escape a stressful situation. You can use this to your advantage when a bird becomes trapped inside a building. Try and darken as much of the area as possible, leaving only a doorway or window to the outside open and well lit. There is a good chance the bird will fly towards the lit area. If the bird is not moving, try encouraging it to move by making lots of motion around it. If the bird does not go to the opening, try gently chasing it into a small area such as a bathroom or office. You can then put a towel or sheet over the bird and gently pick it up. You may release the bird outside if it appears uninjured. However, if you see signs of injury, please contact the Wildlife Rescue Association at 604.527.7275.

11. A woodpecker keeps pecking the siding of my house, what do I do?

There are a couple of reasons why woodpeckers bang on the sides of housing or other buildings. The first reason is that they may be searching for food. Woodpeckers drill holes into wood in order to find small bugs or insects that may be living inside. The second reason is territoriality in relation to breeding. The noise they produce is used to attract a potential mate and also to ward off other suitors. There are a couple of remedies that may help prevent woodpecker damage to your house. First, try hanging shiny and flashy objects that move near the area where they are pecking. Items such as old CDs or DVDs work well, as do pie plates or bunched up tinfoil balls. Wind chimes may also work in some instances. Second, you can try hanging a suet bird feeder nearby the ease of an easily accessible food source may stop them from looking for food on your walls! Last, if nothing else works, you may have to erect a standoff section over problem areas. This can be done by making a frame the size of the area you wish to protect and covering it with hardware mesh (wire cloth) that sits a couple of inches off the wall. After awhile the woodpeckers should give up attempting to feed in that area.

12. Raccoons or skunks keep digging up my garden or lawn, what do I do?

Raccoons and skunks are omnivores and scavengers. This means they prowl each night in search of food. Lawns or gardens contain grubs and bugs that make a tasty meal. Gardens also have the added lure of vegetables and fruit. It is hard to protect an entire yard or garden but, if there are problem areas, you may try using an ice-cream bucket or yoghurt container with an inch or two of bleach in the bottom. Add a cloth to the bleach to help it evaporate and put the lid on and tape it down well. Puncture some air holes to allow the bleach to evaporate. Set several of these around the problem area and mammals will be less likely to spend any time in the area. Other things you may try are negative associations with you and your yard. If you see the animals in the act, yell at them, squirt them with water from a spray bottle or bang pot lids to get them to move along. You may also invest in motion sensitive lights or motion sensitive water sprinklers found at most major hardware stores.

13. I found a baby seal on the beach, what do I do?

Mother seals will often leave their pups unattended for lengths of time while they go off to feed. A mother seal may be hesitant to come ashore if humans are nearby. Ask onlookers to give the pup a wide berth. Observe from a distance. If the mother does not return within 24 hours, the pup may be abandoned and you should contact your nearest marine mammal rehabilitation centre. However, if the pup shows signs of injury or looks extremely skinny (bones visible, etc) then an observation time may not be necessary. In the Greater Vancouver Area, you may contact the Vancouver Aquarium’s Marine Mammal Rescue at 604.258.SEAL (7325). WRA does not rehabilitate marine mammals.

14. How can my cat go outside without killing birds?

Any outdoors cat roaming free will, in all likelihood, kill a bird at some point in its life. There are steps you can take to reduce the risks, such as bells, but only an outdoor enclosure is completely effective. This can be as simple as wire mesh stretched over a frame and the inside decorated with different toys, perches and ledges. Not only does such an enclosure protect the birds but your cat will also be protected from predators such as coyotes.

15. I found a bat, what do I do?

In B.C., bats are the primary rabies vector (species that carry and transmit rabies). Therefore, you must take precautions when dealing with these mammals. A few sensible safety measures can mean the difference be-tween life and death to our wild friends:

Never handle a bat and do not let a bat land on you. At WRA, only trained rehabilitators with current rabies vaccinations handle bats in care.
If a bat is trapped in your house, open all windows and doors and try chasing it out.
If the bat is injured and cannot fly, wear thick gardening or leather gloves and using a towel placed over the bat, pick it up and transfer it to a ventilated box. Once contained, contact WRA or your local rehabilitation centre for advice on transporting the bat into care.
If a bat has been found in a room where people have been sleeping, contact your local public health authority as there is the possibility that the person may have been bitten without realizing it.
If your pet has caught a bat, also contact your veterinarian regarding your pet’s potential rabies exposure.