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What to do if you see a sick or hurt wild animal

If you see a wild animal that you think is sick or hurt, leave it where it is. The MNR has sent out a warning to the public saying it could do more harm than good.

When an animal needs help, it takes specialized care to get it back into the wild. You can call the Ministry of Natural Resources if you see an injured animal, and they will figure out the best course of action. Wounds, fleas, and patchy fur are all signs of a sick animal.

From the Ministry of Natural Resources:

Determining if Wildlife is Abandoned:

Some species leave their offspring alone temporarily, especially during the day. For example, deer and cottontail rabbits spend much of the day away from their well-camouflaged offspring to minimize the chance of predators finding them.

To determine if a young animal has been abandoned, check it periodically for 24 to 48 hours to see if it is still around. Keep your distance. Keep cats and dogs away from the area. The adult animal may not return if it is noisy or if predators or people are close by.

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Figuring out what to do:

Contact your local Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry office to learn more about what you can do to help.

– Visit to contact your local district office

– Call 1-800-667-1940 from Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

– View the rescue a sick, injured or abandoned wild animal webpage

– View a list of wildlife rehabilitators who have agreed to have their contact information included on the ministry’s website.

Signs of Injury or Illness:

– Blood, wounds or swelling on the body

– Body covered in fleas

– Unusual or uneven loss of fur or feathers

– Substantial hair loss or with visible winter ticks

– Difficult or raspy breathing or sneezing

– A dangling leg or wing

– Closed eyes and head tucked under wing

Care Necessary to Help the Animal:

– Contact a wildlife rehabilitator who can help you assess the situation and provide advice on what to do.

– If specialized and immediate care is necessary to help the animal, take it to a wildlife rehabilitator or a veterinarian within 24 hours.

– If you must handle the animal, follow the instructions provided by the wildlife rehabilitator on how to minimize risk of injury to yourself and to the animal.

– Wear protective clothing and equipment, such as leather gloves, to avoid bites or scratches, and wash hands after handling the animal.

It is important to recognize that many of the volunteer-operated organizations have limited capacity to accept animals, especially during the spring.

Diseased or Dead Wildlife

– To report dead animals, including birds or bats, contact the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative at or call 1-866-673-4781.

– If you suspect there is a public health risk from a sick wild animal, such as rabies, or you or your pet had contact with a suspected rabid animal, contact your local Public Health Unit immediately. For more information, call Service Ontario toll-free at 1-866-532-3161.

– Rabies is fatal for humans and animals, if not treated.

– Symptoms of rabies and several other diseases in animals can include tremors, aggressive behaviour, partial paralysis, convulsions, and loss of fear of humans.

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