Before rescuing a wild animal, assess the situation and put your safety and the safely of others first. Call a Wildlife Rehabilitator for advice.
Wildlife Veterinary Care: 540-664-9494
Blue Ridge Wildlife Center: 540-837-9000
You can also search for rehabilitators in your area from the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries website.
Information taken from Blue Ridge Wildlife Center's website:
There are some species of wild animals you should not try to rescue without help. Here in Virginia and West Virginia, raccoons, foxes, and skunks can carry rabies, and can be aggressive when handled. The adults of these species are able to bite through leather gloves. Please call us for help before rescuing these species. Bats can sometimes carry rabies, but have small teeth so they cannot bite through leather gloves. But care should be taken when trying to capture them because their wings are fragile.
Hawks, owls, and eagles can injure with their talons and beaks. Please call for advice on how to rescue these species. If you feel you can rescue the animal safely, try to put the animal in a cardboard box, or other sturdy container, keep it covered, and place it in a warm, dark, quiet place away from people and pets. Keep noise levels low, and do not handle or watch or disturb the animal because wild animals are frightened and stressed by this. Please do not offer the animal anything to eat or drink until you have spoken to the BRWC hotline staff at 540-837-9000.
How can you tell an animal needs to be rescued?
Sometimes it is obvious an animal needs help, but sometimes it is not. If the animal cannot flee, or has obvious wounds, it needs to be rescued. There is an exception for some very young animals. Young birds that have just fledged from the nest are frequently found on the ground and appear unable to fly. Fledgling birds have shorter wing and tail feathers than adults, and if healthy, will usually hop away or fly short distances close to the ground. Their parents are usually still caring for them. These birds are best left with their parents because there are things they need to learn from their parents that we can't teach them. Just keep pets and people out of the area for a few days and let them grow up undisturbed.
Another exception is young cottontails. They leave their nest at a very young age and small size, and they are not very fast. If their ears are upright, their fur is about 1/4 inch long and they are large enough to fill the palm of your hand, they are old enough to be on their own. Young fawns will be left alone on the ground for long periods of time while their mothers find food. They will not run away if approached, and will even let a person pick them up. Leave the area and the mother will return.
Additional online information about wildlife emergencies is available HERE.