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What to do when you find an animal in difficulty?

It is recommended as a priority to call a wildlife care center wild, the wildlife service or a veterinarian to first obtain advice on what to do. 

If it is ayoung bird or mammal, you should not intervene too quickly, because their parents may be nearby and waiting to feed them. You should never touch or move, for example, a fawn or a young hare, because their parents are in the habit of leaving them alone hidden in the vegetation. In the case of a young bird, it must be placed in a high and secure place, such as a tree. If the young animal is clearly in danger, it is then possible to take it in. 

Forhandle the animal, it is ideally recommended to wear gloves and cover the animal with a cloth. Concerning birds, you have to press their wings against their body and carry them like you would carry a ball. Be vigilant about safety. For example, raptors can inflict wounds with their beaks and claws, herons with their beaks. Carnivores may bite to defend themselves, especially if they are injured. It is recommended to wash your hands thoroughly after any handling. 

For the majority of species (birds, hedgehogs, etc.), you must prepare a cardboard box, pierce it to allow ventilation and cover the bottom with newspaper or a cloth. The animal isplaced in the box, in the dark, as calmly as possible, limiting handling and shocks. Avoid giving it food or water unless the care center recommends it, and transport the animal as soon as possible. When you find a wild animal, it is important to carefully note the details of the environment that would help determine the causes of the problem, such as proximity to a road, a cat, sunstroke, intense cold, etc. . 

Oncearrived at the care center, the wild animal will experience several stages. The healthcare team first questions the people who brought him about the circumstances of his discovery in order to understand what could have happened. The animal is then clinically examined to determine a diagnosis and already assess its chances of being released, that is to say, of being independent again to live in nature. The latter is then hospitalized, from a few days to several months depending on the case. For many animals, a short period of rest and care may be enough. The stay often allows you to overcome difficult milestones, such as shock, lack of food, hypothermia, etc. which would have been fatal in nature.

Once treated, some residents still need to followa period rehabilitation to fly or run, and ensure that they will be able to feed themselves. They are then released, if possible at the place of their discovery. 

THEcare for wild animals is free, but the costs for the centers are very significant. Depending on their equipment and teams, the centers can carry out parasite analyses, x-rays, anesthesia, etc. Anesthesia is very often used because wild animals are difficult to handle, such as a hedgehog which will curl up into a ball and will not allow treatment. Centers work in partnership with veterinary practices who wish to help wildlife. The time to devote to care is very important. Baby birds must be fed this way every hour or young squirrels must be bottle-fed several times a day. 

Some individuals keepa disability or difficulty no longer allowing them to live independently in nature, to easily find food or escape predators. Centers, such as La Garenne, have facilities to keep these animals which can no longer be released. In this case, it is also necessary to assess the chances for the animal to have satisfactory well-being during the rest of its life.

Some recommendations

Moderate your speed on the roads. The car remains the main cause of mortality for species such as hedgehogs or lynx.


Avoid theuse of insecticides or poisons against slugs and rodents.

Paste shapes onthe windows where birds regularly collide.


Be vigilant of your dog, cat andgardening tools (such as brush cutters) which can cause serious injury.

Nottrim the hedges in spring and summer.

Think twice beforecollect young animals and check if the parents, the nest, the burrow, etc. are not far away.

Do not try to raise young wild animals yourself (crows, foxes, magpies, etc.) which will becometoo familiar with humans and will cause problems.

Care centers

Thousands of wild animals are collected each year by local care centers. It is possible to contact them below depending on your location. Some are more specialized for certain species (bats, carnivores or birds).

Canton of Vaud

La Garenne zoological park. Rte du Bois Laurent 1,

CH-Le Vaud 022 366 11 14 /


La Vaux Lierre. Chemin de la Vaux 17, 1163 Etoy 021 808 74 95 /

Canton of Geneva

Raptor rehabilitation center. Path of

Rouet, 1257 Bardonnex - Geneva 079 203 47 39 /

Ornithological Rehabilitation Center. Ch. des Chênes 4, 1294 Genthod 079 624 33 07/

Canton of Neuchâtel

Bois du Petit-Château Zoo. La Chaux-de-Fonds 2300, 079 737 11 23 /

Burgundy Franche-Comté

Athens Center. BP 60921, 39009 Lons-le-Saunier Cedex France /

Aider un hérisson
Aider un jeune animal
Bonnes pratiques
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