Wildlife

Discover a wealth of wildlife rescue resources and guidance in our helpful links section. Learn how to make a difference and support our precious wildlife. Explore now.

Injured / Orphaned Wildlife

Animals will often be more aggressive if they are injured or diseased. Be extremely cautious when approaching any injured or orphaned wildlife.

Locate a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator (See below) in your area if you find an injured animal. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators provide care for an animal to a point where it can be released back into its natural environment.

Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator

It is illegal to keep any North Carolina wildlife without a permit, and North Carolina law prohibits any native wildlife from being kept as pets. This is why we have licensed wildlife rehabilitators. These volunteers have the resources to care for small mammals, birds, reptiles, and other species until the animals can be released back into their natural habitat.

Due to the high risk of carrying rabies, the following wild animals should not be handled and cannot be rehabilitated: foxes, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, and bats. Please, leave these animals alone. If your pet has brought one of these animals to you, contact your local vet for advice.

Wild turkeys and adult deer cannot be rehabilitated.

For injured/orphaned bears and federally or state-listed endangered, threatened, or special concern species, please go to Other Contacts.

If you have found a wild animal, the best thing you can do is leave it alone or put it back where it was found. If you are truly concerned that the animal is injured or orphaned but not sure, please read the following information:

Is it injured?

If the animal is able to move on its own, then it’s not injured. The best thing to do is just leave it alone.

If it’s still alive and just not moving, then it’s still not necessarily injured. Certain species become very still when they think they’re threatened or cornered. The best thing to do is leave it alone for at least 24 hours and allow it to move independently.

If it is injured and is not one of the high risks for rabies listed above, then go to the bottom of this section to search for a Wildlife Rehabilitator in your county.

Is the animal orphaned?
Just because a young animal is alone and the adult cannot be seen doesn’t mean the animal is orphaned. Many juvenile animals are left alone by the adult for long periods or merely have fallen out of their nest. Since it’s always best to allow the adults to re-establish contact and take care of their offspring, a good rule of thumb is to leave it alone for 24 to 48 hours to determine if a parent will return.

If the dead adult is found close by to the young animal and is not one of the high risk for rabies listed above, then go to the bottom of this section to search for a Wildlife Rehabilitator in your county.

Contact a Fawn Rehabilitator

It is common to find fawns left alone for long periods by the doe (the female parent). The doe knows when to return and will not if humans are around. The best thing you can do if you find a fawn is leave it alone for 24 hours or put it back where it was found unless it is truly injured or orphaned. Even if it is injured or orphaned, it is okay to put it back or leave it alone.

If you are truly concerned that the fawn is injured or orphaned but not sure, read the following:

Is it injured?
If the fawn is able to move on its own, then it’s likely not injured. The best thing to do is just leave it alone.

If the fawn is not moving but still very young, it’s likely not injured. Very young fawns (for the first 2 to 3 weeks of age), by instinct, do not move. They may lie perfectly still even if they are out in the middle of an open area. This is an instinct to protect them from predators. The mother licks the fawn to reduce any scent that could attract a predator. The best thing to do is just leave it alone.

If the fawn is unable to move from the site where it was found, then go to the bottom of this section to find a Fawn Rehabilitator near you.

Is the animal orphaned?
Just because the fawn is alone and the parent cannot be seen, doesn’t mean the fawn is orphaned. As stated before, fawns are left alone by the doe for long periods of times. A good rule of thumb is to leave the fawn completely alone for 24 hours to determine if parent is not returning.

After leaving it completely alone for 24 hours, and the fawn is in the same location, clearly distressed and bleating (crying) loudly, then go to the bottom of this section to find a Fawn Rehabilitator near you.
If the dead parent is found close by the baby, then go to the bottom of this section to find a Fawn Rehabilitator near you.

Other Contacts

You may also contact your local veterinarian for the name of a rehabilitator in the area or ask if they would be willing to help.

You can also call the following to obtain the name and telephone number of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area.

For a list of rehabilitators in North Carolina visit

Wildlife Rehabilitators of NC

For more information visit

Animal Rehabilitators of the Carolinas

Wildlife Permits and License Office

(919) 707-0060

Wildlife Enforcement Communications

(919) 707-0040

For Injured Deer or Black Bear

Wildlife Enforcement Division

1-800-662-7137
(919) 707-0040
(for Wake County)

For Injured Endangered/Threatened Species

Wildlife Enforcement Division

1-800-662-7137
(919) 707-0040

US Fish and Wildlife Service

(919) 856-4786