How do I know if a wild animal is orphaned?
What should I do if I find a young wild animal and the parent isn't in sight?
The best way to help is to just leave the young animal where it is and not disturb it. If you are concerned that it has been abandoned, observe the situation from far away using binoculars for brief periods. Don't remain in the area as the parents maybe too afraid to return while you are there. When people handle or move young animals, it increases the likelihood that parents may abandon them or be unable to find them.
If you suspect an animal is in need of help, please contact:
Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship at (204) 945-6784 or the nearest district office.
Why shouldn't I keep the animal myself?
You would be breaking the law - only licensed facilities may legally be in possession of wild animals. Young wild animals need exhaustive care, special nutrition, and handling. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are trained to use methods that will give a wild animal the best chance of surviving upon release.
In addition, wild animals may bite/injure you and/or attack household pets.
Although remote, there are many serious health risks are associated with handling and living in close proximity with wild animals, including rabies, parasites and distemper. For example, raccoon roundworm can cause blindness and on very rare occasions may even cause death if contracted by people, especially children who have a tendency to put dirt or dirty hands into their mouths.
Human-raised and hand-fed wildlife often cannot be returned to the wild because they have become used to people and may lack survival skills.
What happens when conservation officers take an animal?
Conservation officers will assess the condition of the animal to make the best decision possible about next steps. For young birds and mammals thought to be orphaned, this means determining if they are truly orphaned or if the parents are still present.
If there is a licensed rehabilitation facility in Manitoba that can accept the animal, the officers will try to contact them to see if space is available.
Sometimes, an animal may be too sick or weak to recover, and the most humane thing is for the animal to be euthanized.
What services do Manitoba wildlife rehabilitation facilities offer?
The purpose of wildlife rehabilitation is to give a wild animal a second chance at being a wild animal.
There are two licensed, not-for-profit wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Manitoba. Rehabilitators are trained to use methods that will give a wild animal the best chance of surviving upon release.
Hundreds of injured and orphaned animals are rehabilitated and released each year, and every attempt is made to return animals to their original territory.
These facilities also provide public education about wildlife issues.
Why are there no rehabilitation facilities for some wildlife species in Manitoba?
Currently, Manitoba wildlife rehabilitation facilities are not licensed to care for some wild animals, including skunks and bears.
A wildlife rehabilitation centre can be established after a detailed proposal has been reviewed and approved by Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship. This proposal must include a business plan documenting that adequate funding and ongoing operational support has been secured.
The facility will be licensed only after the centre's staff and volunteers have undergone International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) approved training and the buildings and enclosures have been inspected and meet or exceed IWRC standards for the species to be rehabilitated.
Why can't an animal be sent to a facility out-of-province?
Many jurisdictions, including Manitoba, require special licenses, permits or conditions to transport wildlife to another province or state, and many wildlife rehabilitation centres do not have space for animals from other provinces.
Transporting animals between provinces also increases the risk of spreading disease to healthy wild animals upon release. Manitoba works with the Canadian Wildlife Health Cooperative to monitor emerging wildlife disease issues and in assessing the risk of spreading disease through the release animals into the wild.
Can't animals be placed in a zoo instead of a wildlife rehabilitation facility?
If animals cannot be released, Manitoba Conservation and Water Stewardship will contact accredited zoo facilities for permanent placement. However, zoos get many such requests annually and are not always able to accommodate all requests.
What factors are considered when a decision is made to release an animal into the wild?
The age, health and behavior of injured or orphaned animals are monitored and used to assess the potential for their release. The availability of suitable habitat and the effects to local human and wildlife populations are also considered before a decision is made to release a rehabilitated animal into the wild.
When should an animal be released?
Animals are released when an appropriate age and state of health is achieved during the rehabilitation process. The timing of release also depends on the animal's normal life cycle. For example, migratory birds are not released in Manitoba in winter.
Are animals tracked after they are released into the wild?
This does not regularly occur. The best way of tracking animals is by attaching a radio or satellite transmitter. For some species this can reduce their chance of survival after release. In the case of young animals of many species, including bear cubs, radio-collars have to be replaced often as the animal grows.
Why are some animals released into the wild and others aren't? Isn't it cruel to release an animal back into the wild?
Some animals are so badly injured that they do not survive.
Those that do often cannot be released because they are either permanently disabled or they have become too habituated to people. These animals can sometimes be kept permanently in captivity if an appropriate facility exists to care for them for the rest of their lives. If not, they are euthanized.
Rehabilitated animals that have a reasonable chance of survival are released to the wild. It's important to recognize that wild animals can die in even pristine habitats.