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What should I do if I find injured wildlife?

Animals will often be more aggressive if they are injured. Be extremely cautious when approaching any potentially injured wildlife. If an injured animal is found and you know the number of a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area, you can call them for assistance. 

See the Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator section for more information and contact numbers. You can also call the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 to obtain the name and telephone number of a licensed rehabilitator in your area. Wildlife Enforcement should be contacted for any injured deer or black bear at 800-662-7137.


I found a baby animal what should I do with it?

If you have found a juvenile animal by itself, it is very important to first determine whether or not it truly is orphaned. Many animals will be left alone during the day so that predators are not alerted to their presence. If the animal does not have any visible wounds and appears active and alert, chances are it is not truly orphaned, and the parents are close by keeping an eye on things. It is always best to leave the animal alone and reassess the situation in 24 hours. If in 24 hours the animal has not moved, and there have been no signs of the mother returning, you should contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. 

You can find rehabilitator contact information under the Contact a Wildlife Rehabilitator section or contact the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 to obtain the name and telephone number of a licensed rehabilitator in your area.

There is a fawn laying alone. Is it ok?

Just seeing a fawn laying by itself does not mean it has been orphaned. Fawns will be left alone for long periods of time until they are old enough to keep up with the mother. This allows the mother to forage for food without attracting predators to the location of their fawn. Fawns are often found hidden within tall grass or bushes, but they can sometimes be found in more conspicuous locations like backyards. If you find a fawn and are concerned it may be orphaned leave it alone for at least 24 hours to see if the mother returns. If the fawn has not moved after 24 hours and there have been no signs of the mother returning, contact the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401.

If I touch a baby bird will the mother abandon it?

Birds do not readily abandoned nests because they “smell humans”. However, if a nest is repeatedly disturbed by humans (especially before the eggs hatch) a mother bird may choose to abandon the nest if she believes the area is no longer safe. If you find a young bird on the ground that is featherless or fuzzy and has closed eyes, try to locate the nest and gently place the bird back inside the nest. If the bird has feathers, open eyes, and appears alert it has likely fledged the nest and is being cared for by its parents on the ground.

How can I protect my pet from wildlife?

The best way to protect your pets from interacting with wildlife is through supervision. Keep pets contained, leashed or supervised when outside. Domestic pets left alone outside become vulnerable to interactions with wildlife and should not be left to roam the property alone, especially at night.

How can I become a Wildlife Rehabilitator?

Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator is not a decision to take lightly. Applicants must be able to document their experience in the field, and acquire a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit. Click here to see the rehabilitator guidelines, and here for upcoming training opportunities.

What are the consequences of feeding wildlife?

Feeding wildlife can cause animals to lose their fear of people, and become accustomed to human presence. This can lead to animals becoming aggressive, and can increase the spread of wildlife diseases. Additionally, human food is not healthy for wild animals and they do not need food from humans to survive.

Hazards of Feeding Wildlife (PDF)

Who picks up dead animals?

Property owners are responsible for disposing of dead animals on their property. The animal can be buried or left to decompose naturally. Some cities/counties offer a curbside pick-up service. DOT may remove dead animals on state-maintained roadways if causing traffic concerns. Wildlife Control Agents can be hired to remove dead animals, however not all agents offer this service.

What Are Recommendations for Activities Involving Bats During COVID-19?

What Are Recommendations for Rehabilitating Bats with White-nose Syndrome?

The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission has produced a guide on best management practices for rehabilitating bats affected with white-nose syndrome, based on questions received by the public and wildlife rehabilitators. 

Acceptable Management Practices for Rehabilitating Bats Affected by White-nose Syndrome: A Guide for Wildlife Rehabilitators (PDF)

What Are Recommendations for Wildlife Rehabilitators During COVID-19?




Call: 866-318-2401. The Wildlife Helpline is open Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.



Injured and Orphaned Wildlife


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:

Certain species of wildlife cannot be rehabilitated in North Carolina. These species include adult white-tailed deer, adult black bear, coyote, nutria, and feral swine.

Please note:  It is illegal in North Carolina to keep most wildlife species without a permit. Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators are the only individuals that have proper licenses and training to provide care for wild animals until they can be released back into their natural habitat.


There are volunteers across the state that are trained and licensed to rehabilitate wild animals until the animal can be released back into their natural habitat. Rehabilitators dedicate their time and money to caring for orphaned and injured animals; before contacting someone, be sure the animal needs assistance by considering the information below.

For severely injured white-tailed deer or black bear contact the NC Wildlife Helpline at 866-318-2401 (Mon-Fri. 8 am- 5 pm) or the Wildlife Enforcement Division at 800-662-7137 outside of business hours.

Is it injured?


  1. If the animal is able to move on its own, then it’s not injured. Best thing to do is just leave it alone.
  2. If it’s still alive and just not moving, then it’s still not necessarily injured. Certain species have a tendency to 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 on its own.
  3. If it is obviously injured and is not an adult white-tailed deer, adult black bear, coyote, nutria, or feral swine, then go to the bottom of this section to search for a wildlife rehabilitator in your county

Is the animal orphaned?

  1. 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 of times or merely have fallen out of their nest. Since it’s always best to give the adults the opportunity to re-establish contact and take care of their own offspring, a good rule of thumb is to leave it alone for 24 to 48 hours to determine if parent will return.
  2. 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. 

Seen a Sick Deer?

If you have seen or harvested a sick deer, please call your local District Biologist or the Wildlife Helpline at 1-866-318-2401.

Signs to look for:

  • Isolation from other animals
  • Listlessness or showing little or no interest in their surroundings
  • Lack of coordination
  • Frequent lowering of the head
  • Blank facial expressions
  • Walking in set patterns    
  • Drooling and grinding of teeth
  • Drinking lots of water and increased urination
  • Low weight

For more information, see our Chronic Wasting Disease Fact Sheet (PDF).