My mother could tolerate almost any wildlife my sister and I were curious about, but snakes? She didn’t even like to look at one. Still, she taught us to respect any wild animal and its habitat. One summer morning we found a couple of sparrows whose nest had fallen out of the shrubs in front of our house. We waited from a safe distance until the mother bird returned to the nest. She came and went with food for the little ones, right to the nest where it still rested on the ground. But we knew that the nest was not safe left on the ground.
There are limits to what anyone can do with wild animals. What if you find a baby animal in the woods that appears to be all alone? The New York State Wildlife Rehabilitators’ web site (www.nyswrc.org) says not to interfere, that “babies often stray from their parents to explore. Many baby birds leave their nest before they are able to fly. All too often a child or well meaning adult will take such an animal, thinking it is an orphan. Interference can mean death for a young animal and distress for the parent. Watch patiently from afar and usually a parent will appear, to care for its young.”
Would be “helpers” should note that it’s illegal to keep a wild animal without a license. If you do find an animal you think is hurt or abandoned, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible. Contact your local Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or the New York State Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (NYSWRC). These volunteers are licensed by the state and federal government to care for injured and orphaned wildlife. Each spring in New York alone, thousands of orphaned wildlife are placed in their care. Licensed rehabilitators will raise them so that they can be released back to the wild.
If you would like to know more about becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, go to the website at www.nyswrc.org. You can join the membership committee for NYSWRC online. It states, “Members consist of licensed wildlife rehabilitators and assistants, veterinarians, wildlife professionals, and other interested lay persons… There are three classifications for membership: Individual, Household, and Organization.” To become a member of the committee, print a membership application from the NYSWRC website, fill in your information and mail to NYSWRC Membership Committee, 1850 North Forest Rd., Williamsville NY 14221. Or you may call or e-mail Membership Chair Jean Alden (716-636-8904) for information on membership.