How to deal with injured and orphaned wildlife in the Peace Region

Spring is the time of year when many species of wildlife give birth, and our Fish and Wildlife branch would like to remind the public how to deal with orphaned or injured wildlife. Both our Provincial call centre and local Ministry of Environment (MoE) office receive many calls about injured animals or ones that are believed to be abandoned by their mother. These animals are often picked up and cared for by the public with the intention that these animals can then be sent to a wildlife rehabilitation centre.

As a general guideline, wild animals should always be given as much opportunity as possible to remain in the wild. They are best reared by their natural mother, and rearing by humans can negatively impact their behaviour and subsequent survival. There have been a number of instances when deer fawns, and occasionally bear cubs, have been picked up because they appeared to be abandoned or thought to be orphans. In some instances the mother may have wandered away to get food or chase away potential predators. What may have been thought of as positive human intervention, resulted in an unnecessary human-wildlife interaction. Exposure to humans can have many unintended consequences including; habituation, leading to problems for them later in life due to conflicts with people or increased susceptibility to hunting, transmission of infectious diseases to the animal or from the animal to the human, improper care of the animals leading to ill health or inhumane treatment.

In the Peace Region we have only one licensed wildlife rehabilitation facility, with limited capacity. This facility can handle a limited number of black bears, and some birds or small mammals. Once that capacity has been reached, animals that cannot be released in the wild will likely have to be euthanized by MoE staff. There is no facility that can handle ungulates, such as deer or moose. Before MoE can issue a permit to a wildlife rehabilitation facility, it has to be inspected to ensure that it meets adequate standards for the welfare of the animals. Thus, this is also a reminder that it is illegal under the Wildlife Act to possess wildlife without the proper authorization by MoE. The MoE policy on possession of live wildlife states that ?in all cases the first consideration is the welfare of the wildlife and the safety of people.? If it can be determined that the animal is orphan or injured, or if the animal is considered dangerous, this should be reported to our call centre at 1-877-952-7277 (1-877-952-RAPP). Otherwise, in the best interest of all wildlife please refrain from disturbing these young animals and let nature run its course.