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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
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 find a wild animal that you suspect needs help, the first and best thing you can do is leave it alone or put it back where it was found. If you suspect the animal is injured or orphaned, but aren't sure, please read the following information:
Due to a high risk of permanent harm to the animal or people during attempted rehabilitation, or to its invasive status, some species of wildlife cannot legally be rehabilitated in North Carolina. These species include adult white-tailed deer, adult black bears, coyotes, nutria, and feral swine. White-tailed deer fawns found within a CWD Surveillance Area cannot be rehabilitated or transported outside that area.
Please note: It is illegal in North Carolina to keep most wildlife species without a permit. NC licensed wildlife rehabilitators are the only individuals who are legally allowed to possess and provide care for live wildlife. These individuals are trained and have the necessary experience to prevent permanent dependence on humans while maximizing an orphaned or injured animal's chance of survival upon release.
Wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers who are trained and licensed by the State of North Carolina to rehabilitate wild animals until they can be released back into their natural habitat. Rehabilitators dedicate a considerable amount of their time and money to care for orphaned and injured wildlife. Before contacting a rehabilitator, be sure the animal truly needs assistance. In most cases, a wild animal has the best chance of survival when it is not taken into human care. Often the best way you can help a wild animal is to leave it alone.
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. Due to a very low chance of survival in human care, adults of these species are best left to heal from superficial injuries on their own. If the animal is able to walk on its own, the best way to help is to give the animal space.
If you find a young wild animal or nest by itself with no adult nearby, this is normal in nature; don’t assume it’s abandoned or orphaned. Most young wildlife is left alone, sometimes for long periods of time (up to 24 hours for rabbits!), while their parents go elsewhere in search of food. Even young that have fallen out or been removed from the nest will still be cared for by their parents if people don’t intervene. Wild parents almost never abandon their young.
Since a young wild animal’s best chance of survival is in the care of its own parents, a good rule of thumb is to leave it alone for at least 24 hours before taking any action. In that time consult a wildlife professional to learn if or how you should help.
If a young wild animal is obviously and extremely thin, is clearly injured, or a dead adult is found nearby, then click the button below to search for a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area. Coyotes, nutria, and feral swine are not native to North Carolina and cannot legally be rehabilitated. White-tailed deer fawns found within a CWD Surveillance Area cannot be rehabilitated or transported outside that area.
Preventing Wildlife Conflicts
Common Wildlife Diseases
Hazards of Feeding Wildlife (PDF)
Information about NC Wildlife Species
Contact a Wildlife Control Agent
Information about Wildlife Depredation Permits
Hunting and Trapping Rules/Regulations
Contact a Licensed Trapper During the Trapping Season
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:
For more information, see our Chronic Wasting Disease Fact Sheet (PDF).