We have several wildlife sanctuaries here in San Diego County. One of them is Sky Hunters in Lakeside. Sky Hunters is a non-profit group dedicated to informing the public about raptors and birds of prey, and promoting raptor conservation.
I got this picture of a beautiful Western Screech Owl winking at me last December at a Sky Hunters presentation:
The birds that Sky Hunters uses in its presentations are either injured and cannot be returned to the wild, or they have become accustomed to humans and cannot be relied on to hunt on their own if they were to be returned to the wild.
Most people don’t know the proper care and handling instructions for injured birds and can end up accidentally hurting themselves or the bird. If you come across an injured hawk or owl, or any bird, first protect yourself by wearing gloves and covering the bird with a towel or blanket.
Get the bird into a cardboard box with air holes as a temporary container to move it to safety. Don’t try to pet it or feed it. Once contained, move it somewhere warm, dark, and quiet. Then immediately call a licensed rehabilitation group. Don’t wait! Here in San Diego we have Sky Hunters (619-445-6565) and Project Wildlife (619-225-9453), and their phones generally are answered 24/7.
The San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego also have animal rescue services, but they generally work with the larger animals — mountain lions, whales, dolphins, seals, sea lions, etc. Start with Sky Hunters and Project Wildlife, and if they can’t help you, they will know where to send you.
If it’s a larger animal, such as an opossum or raccoon, it’s best to simply call an animal rescue service. Some wild animals carry diseases that can be transmittted to humans, so don’t take a chance. There’s a reason wildlife has wild in it. These creatures don’t know that you are trying to help.
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