What to do if you find injured wildlife


Helping injured wildlife in our community is every citizen’s responsibility. Injured, sick, and orphaned birds and mammals found in our community require volunteers to help them get to the designated wildlife rehabilitation centres in the Lower Mainland as quickly and safely as possible. If rehabilitation is successful, once fully recovered these animals can be released back into the wild. Sometimes, if an animals is too badly injured, euthanasia may be required to prevent further suffering. It is illegal for members of the public (including veterinary clinics and animal shelters) to hold wildlife for longer than 24 hours.

The principal rehabilitation centres in our region are volunteer-driven, donor-funded, non-profit organizations. You can visit them online to learn more, or if you are interested in becoming a volunteer or making a donation.

  • OWL (Orphaned Wildlife) Rehabilitation Centre in Delta, BC rehabilitates injured raptors (owls, eagles, hawks, etc.) and hosts tours and education programs.

  • Critter Care Wildlife Society in Langley, BC rehabilitates a variety of mammals from raccoons to skunks, bobcats and bears.

  • The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC in Burnaby, BC rehabilitates a wide variety of bird species, mammals, reptiles and amphibians.

  • BCSPCA Wild ARC in Victoria, BC is the BCSPCA’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility, located on Vancouver Island, and staffs the provincial wildlife in distress hotline (1-855-622-7722) to advise the public.

You are out for a walk and come across injured wildlife—what do you do? Here are some helpful tips:

  • Is the animal injured? First, observe the animal from a safe distance to look for signs of injury and illness. If the animal has been in the mouth of a dog or a cat, has obvious deformities or is showing abnormal behaviour, injury or illness is likely. Other signs to look for include: bleeding, limping, weakness, disorientation, laboured breathing and thin body condition.

  • Not all babies are injured wildlife! Baby animals are often mistakenly captured when, in fact, mom is not far away. Mothers will often leave their young to hunt or feed and return later in the day. DO NOT touch the baby animal, try to feed it, or take it with you unless instructed to do so by a licensed rehabilitator.

  • How to Help Sick and Injured Wildlife:

  • Clearly note the exact location. Bring your cell phone for your own safety and to facilitate reporting and getting assistance (i.e. drop a pin on a google map, take a photo of the location for reference).

  • Ensure your own safety first. Injured wildlife can be dangerous and may try to bite or scratch if they feel threatened. Some wildlife can carry infectious diseases, so keep a safe distance until otherwise instructed. NEVER handle bats (dead or alive) due to the risk of rabies.

  • Call the proper authorities for further instructions.

  • For sick/injured birds and small mammals: Call the BC SPCA wildlife in distress hotline: 1-855-6BC-SPCA (1-855-622-7722). They will help you determine if the animal needs rescuing and will walk you through the necessary steps.

  • For large animals (bears, coyotes, cougars, etc.): Call Whistler Conservation Officer: 1-877-952-7277

  • The rehabilitation centre may advise that the animal be captured and transported to one of the rehabilitation centres in the Lower Mainland.

  • If you are able to perform this duty, the rehabilitators will walk you through the necessary steps to ensure your safety and to minimize stress and injury to the animal.

  • If you are unable to capture and transport the animal yourself, you can reach out to Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife Volunteer Network, a growing organization of volunteers (message @seatoskyinjured wildlife on Instagram or Facebook).



  • ● What to do if you find dead wildlife:

  • ○ Roadside dead animals: within Whistler call the Animal Control sector of Whistler Bylaws (604 935 8280). For Hwy 99 from Horseshoe Bay to Function Junction call DriveBC's Report a Highway Problem: (1-866-918-1010).

  • ○ Dead wild birds: 1-866-431-BIRD (2473). Several government agencies work together to investigate wild bird mortality. The Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife Volunteer Network was created because members of the public often find injured wildlife but are not sure what to do or whom to call. We are working to improve public knowledge in this area and provide resources and training for volunteers. This resource was developed by a collective of volunteer wildlife rescuers, rehabilitators, veterinary professionals, environmentalists, naturalists, bird watchers, and animal welfare advocates in our community. We always need more volunteers, especially volunteer drivers and individuals with wildlife rescue and rehabilitation experience. Join our community on Facebook and Instagram (@seatoskyinjuredwildlife) to sign up.


MORE RESOURCES -BCSPCA WILDLIFE FAQ: https://spca.bc.ca/i-need-help-with/wildlife/ -Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife “Information for Volunteers”: https://snoopandlove.org/2021/01/27/information-for-volunteers/ -The Wildlife Rescue Association of BC https://www.wildliferescue.ca/category/education/ -BC Government Wildlife Health: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/environment/plants-animals-ecosystems/wildlife/wildlife-health

CONTRIBUTORS Julia Whitfield, DVM (Wildlife and Exotics Veterinarian, Conservationist) Melinda M. Lopez, DVM, (Emergency Veterinarian, Volunteer Coordinator for Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife) Chantal Christopher, RVT (Wildlife Rehabilitator, Veterinary Technician, Volunteer Coordinator for Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife)

Tatyana Jaddock, RVT (Veterinary Technician, Volunteer Coordinator for Sea to Sky Injured Wildlife) Noemie Capucine Quessey (Health Resources and Community Outreach Coordinator) Heather Baines, MD (Medical Doctor, Wildlife Rescuer, Volunteer for Orphaned Wildlife League O.W.L) Shawn Mason (Wildlife Rescuer, Volunteer for Orphaned Wildlife League O.W.L) Kristina Swerhun (Whistler Naturalists Society)

IMG_4384.jpg

NatureSpeak Articles