If you’ve found sick or injured wildlife, either leave the animal or bird where you found it and let nature take its course or call a wildlife rehabilitator.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and Wildlife Illinois explain procedures and legal implications of how residents should handle wildlife challenges.
Call the local animal control office or police department for assistance if the animal poses a threat to public health or safety.
You should not try to care for wildlife yourself. Many people are not aware that it is illegal to keep wildlife in captivity or as pets in Illinois. This is because most wildlife in Illinois is protected by the Wildlife Code, and they cannot be kept in captivity without a permit.
Untrained individuals should not handle wildlife. Wild animals or birds can inflict serious injury. They can also be carriers of disease or parasites that are transmittable to humans or domestic animals.
When people find young wildlife they often jump to the conclusion that the animal or bird is orphaned and needs help. That is usually not the case. Young animals and birds are often left alone while their parents are away searching for food. Many orphaned animals that are “rescued” each year by well-meaning people were not really orphans.
If you find a baby bird or animal, do not touch or remove it unless you are absolutely sure that it is an orphan. If you are not sure if the animal is orphaned, watch it from a distance so that the parents will not be afraid to return. This might take awhile; many species only return to their young near dusk and dawn.
A young animal or bird that looks well-fed and has bright eyes and clean fur or feathers is probably not orphaned. If the animal does need help, contact a wildlife rehabilitator for advice.
Sick or injured wildlife
It is illegal to care for sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife in Illinois unless you have a permit from the IDNR. Individuals with wildlife rehabilitator permits may assist injured wildlife if necessary. Wildlife rehabilitators should not be expected to have the resources (finances and facility) or experience to successfully treat all species of Illinois wildlife.
You should not attempt to assist an animal if there is a risk to personal safety or to the safety of others. If rabies is suspected, call the local animal control agency so that the animal can be captured and tested.
If you have been bitten by a wild animal, seek medical attention immediately. Your health care provider can assess your risk for rabies exposure and can administer shots if needed.