People who find young wildlife alone often believe that the animal is orphaned and remove the animal from the wild in an attempt to help. Many animals do not closely approach their young except for feeding to help them stay hidden and safe, so in most cases, the best course of action is to leave them alone so that the parent can return. Before removing young wildlife from their natural habitat, make sure they are truly orphaned using the information below:
- Finding Young Wildlife (Mass Wildlife)
- I Found a Baby Bird, Now What?
- I Found a Baby Mammal, Now What?
- Found an Orphaned or Injured Baby Wild Animal? (Humane Society)
- Orphaned Wildlife (New England Wildlife Center)
Question: Can I take care of a baby animal?
Answer: No! Not only is it a bad idea, but it is also illegal. An orphaned wild animal should always be taken to a wildlife rehabilitation center where it can be hand-raised by a licensed professional, socialized with members of the same species, and ultimately released back into the wild. Contact New England Wildlife Center or Cape Wildlife Center for assistance, or visit mass.gov/service-details/find-a-wildlife-rehabilitator to find a license wildlife rehabiliator in your area.
Question: I see baby rabbits everywhere in the spring. They appear to be alone. Are they orphans?
Answer: Actually, bunnies are rarely orphaned, and mom is usually hiding close by. If you find baby bunnies, please read the House Rabbit Society’s Information page to learn more about the best things to do for them. More often than not, you should leave them where they are and keep pets away.
Question: Does Animal Control handle abandon wildlife?
Answer: Contact Animal Control and let us evaluate the situation. If you care leave it there!
Question: Does Animal Control handle injured wildlife?
Answer: Animal Control will evaluate injured wildlife. If necessary, injured wildlife will be transported to the Cape Wildlife Center. This is the only center near us so if they are not open or not excepting animals the ACO doesn’t have another facility for this. There is no mandate under state that ACO’s are required to handle injured wildlife, so this is a service not required but is provided when ACO is on duty. If it is after hours leave the animal alone and a leave a voicemail on our machine and the situation will be evaluated when the ACO is on-duty.
If it is injured or is truly orphaned, the animal needs care from a wildlife rehabilitator. For your safety and the safety of the animal, contact Animal Control or a wildlife rehabilitator before helping an injured or orphaned animal. It is against the law to care for wildlife yourself, and only a licensed wildlife rehabilitator can provide the care needed to return the animal to the wild where it belongs. Please see Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators below. Always consult a professional before attempting the Capture and Transport of Injured or Orphaned Wildlife.
Report live or dead stranded whales, dolphins, seals and sea turtles to the New England Aquarium by calling the stranding hotline at (617) 973-5247.
There are two wildlife centers in our area as well as several independent wildlife rehabilitators:
Many species of wildlife are able to live close to humans. These animals sometimes become problematic. Here are some tips for preventing conflicts with wildlife:
- Don't feed wildlife!
- Keep all trash contained.
- Don't feed pets outdoors.
- Secure your pets.
- Close off crawl spaces under porches and sheds.
- Don't approach or try to pet wildlife.
- Educate your neighbors.
See MassWildlife's Living with Wildlife page for more information. Their Preventing Conflicts with Wildlife page may also be helpful. Information on specific animals can be found in the Wildlife Fact Sheets Library.
If you have an conflict with an animal, the MSPCA's Intruder Excluder site may be helpful in identifying the species and finding a solution.
Here are some animals that people are often concerned about and some information on how to deal with them:
- Marine & Environmental Affairs Wildlife Information: Eastern Coyote
- MassWildlife: Eastern Coyote, Preventing Conflicts, Coyote Advice for Adults
- Humane Society: Why Is There a Coyote in My Yard?, Preventing Coyote Conflicts, Coyote Hazing
- MassWildlilfe: Bats, Homeowner's Guide to Bats
- Humane Society: There's a Bat In My House!, What to Do About Bats, Eviction Notice for Roosting Bats
- Center for Disease Control: Bats
- MassWildife: Preventing Conflicts with Wild Turkeys, Living with Wildlife - Wild Turkeys
- Humane Society: What to Do About Wild Turkeys
Since rabies is a disease carried by mammals, it can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals. It is spread through a bite or scratch from an infected animal. Rabies has been found in Massachusetts in bats, cats, dogs, foxes and raccoons. It can also be carried by skunks and domestic livestock. For more information about rabies, see the Executive Office of Health & Human Services' resources: Rabies Information and Recommendations, and Rabies Fact Sheet.
An important step in preventing the spread of rabies is vaccination of pets. Make sure you pets are vaccinated as required by law.