Caring for Injured or Juvenile Birds & Animals
If you come across a young and/or injured animal, you must think before you act! There are not only laws that you must follow, but also the rules of common sense.
IMPORTANT!!! Please note that the West Nile Virus is active in Arizona. Birds that appear to have died under mysterious circumstances (NOT road kills, window kills, etc.) and birds exhibiting unusual behavior should be reported to Arizona Game and Fish in Pinetop (number below) or Arizona Department of Health Services at (602) 230-5918. Freshly dead birds should be handled with gloves and placed in a bag in the refrigerator (not freezer) for collecting by Game and Fish for testing (please, no baby birds). For more WNV information, go to the end of this article.
Live birds exhibiting unusual behavior should not be touched-report them to the appropriate agency immediately. Typically, most people will find either a stranded baby bird, or an injured adult bird. In both cases, keeping these birds and trying to take care of them yourself is against our native wildlife regulations. Good intentions often do not produce positive results, and these laws are intended to provide our wildlife species with the best care possible under trained rehabilitators.
Often baby birds have simply fallen out of their nest. Since most songbirds have no sense of smell, the adult birds will continue to feed even after being handled by a human. If you can locate the nest, you should simply place the bird carefully back into its nest. If you are certain that the young bird does not have a nest to return to, or is injured, or if you find an injured adult bird, place it in a small box with air holes, some soft cloths or newspaper, and contact the appropriate number/person below as soon as possible. Birds, especially baby birds, need the proper amount of nutrients and minerals in certain combinations to develop into healthy adults; in addition, most baby birds need to be fed an average of every half hour. Each species, too, has different protein needs, and has evolved to eat different sources of food. If you must keep the bird for longer than a few hours, feed the bird water using an eyedropper to keep it hydrated. Adult birds may feed on their own if you provide seed and/or mealworms. However, it is important to call the appropriate contact immediately, and you may receive directions on how to temporarily care for the bird until you can transport it to a rehabilitator.
For many larger mammals, such as deer, antelope, and elk, the mothers often leave their young hidden or lying down while they go off to feed. Mothers WILL return to their young, so if you see a fawn or calf, PLEASE leave it alone! Contact your local Game and Fish representative to report the animal if you wish, but realize that if that animal is removed from its safe hiding place, it may be impossible to reunite the animal with its mother. Small mammals, such as skunks, raccoons, bats, and foxes SHOULD NOT BE HANDLED due to the possibility of rabies. If you find an animal that is acting abnormally, call the appropriate contact below. Keep other humans, especially children, away from such animals. Do not attempt to "play" with these animals, and do not feed these animals human food. If you can "trap" abnormally acting animals by placing a box on top of them, or confining them to a space in your yard without endangering yourself, that will help officials remove the animal for treatment.
CONTACT INFORMATION. For songbirds, raptors including eagles, waterfowl and small mammals, please contact Susan Taggart at (928) 242-5796. If you are unable to reach her and need assistance immediately, you may call the White Mountain Animal Hospital in Lakeside at (928) 368-8425 or Alta Sierra Veterinary Clinic in Show Low (928) 537-2880. Susan works in conjunction with the animal hospitals and is sub-permitted through the Arizona Game and Fish Department to care for injured and orphaned wildlife as a community service.
Eagles and large mammals
Contact the Arizona Game and Fish Department office in Pinetop at (928) 367-4281, Monday through Friday 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. On weekends and evenings, contact the Game and Fish Department radio dispatcher at (602) 789-3201, who will contact the appropriate personnel in your area.
West Nile Virus in Arizona
Humans, horses and some bird types are most susceptible to illness when bit by an infected mosquito. Genetics make other animals - like cats and dogs - immune to the disease. Llamas and alpacas may also get ill, health officials say.
Dead bird testing. County departments can test birds brought in that may be suspected of having the illness. Common pigeons and doves do not get the disease, but finches and sparrows can.
In most cases, humans infected with the virus show no or few symptoms, but it can turn deadly for the elderly. In 2010, the state confirmed 163 human cases, 15 of them in Maricopa County and 15 in Pinal County, and 2 in the White Mountains. There have been 13 deaths in Arizona, mostly in the southeast Valley. We are obtaining statistics for 2011.