Rabies Vector Species & General Wildlife Information

Today was a sad day. A group of young people brought in a perfectly healthy and wonderful little bat and they truly wanted to help it. They found it in a parking lot on pavement and didn’t know what else to do so they brought it to the Wildlife Rehab facility I work at. However, they were uninformed about dealing with wildlife and this healthy and vibrant bat had to be euthanized. They touched a rabies vector species with their bare hands and since bats are such a risk it had to be immediately put down so it can be tested for rabies. This is one of the saddest parts of volunteering where I do. Because of the fact that so many people are uninformed or ill-informed, innocent and otherwise healthy animals have to die. It’s also terrible for the people trying to help because they brought it in and they just truly did not know the right thing they should have been doing.

Working at a Wildlife Rehabilitation center has taught me a lot. A lot of the things I’ve learned I would have never learned otherwise, I know this. But the public needs to be informed of so many things when it comes to wildlife! I am so very passionate about animals and their well being and there are truly some great humans out there for wanting to help wild animals. However, some of the things people think they are doing to help are actually hurting the animals. Here is a list of general things to know about dealing with sick, injured, or abandoned wildlife:

1. Find your local wildlife rehabilitator and contact them. The best thing would be to take it to them directly and not interfere. If you can’t get to a rehabilitator right away, ask them what you should do in the situation you’re in and what you can do to help the animal. Do not go directly to the internet unless the site is a government site or the website of a wildlife rehab. I cannot stress that the best thing to do would be to give the animal to someone who knows what they are doing. If there is no wildlife rehab nearby call the ASPCA, the game commission, etc. Get in contact with someone who knows what they’re doing.

2. Know the rabies vector species of your area. For example, the rabies vector species of Pennsylvania are raccoons, bats, foxes, coyotes, skunks. Any animal can contact rabies, but these animals are a danger and you should never touch them with your bare hands. Always wear gloves when handling these animals and handle them as minimally as possible. I cannot stress this enough. If you touch a rabies vector species there is a very high chance the animal will have to be put down to be tested for rabies because in the State’s eyes your health is more important than an animals, and rabies will kill you.

3. Do not try to rehab an animal on your own. It is illegal. You can be fined up to one thousand dollars per day per animal if you’re caught. It is also bad for the animal. Wild animals are not domesticated animals, your house and your human food is not the right thing for them. I know people want to help and think they’re doing the right thing when they take in a wild animal but it is really best to let them be in an environment where they can be with others of their own species and be fed the right food and have minimal human contact.

4. Educate yourself and others on wildlife, your local rehabilitators and other local facilities, rabies, other diseases carried by wildlife and learn the correct way to help benefit wildlife. Spread the news you’ve learned. Help others prevent the spread of rabies and also help others help animals.

To learn more about rabies go here:

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0002310/

To find local rehabiliators go here:

http://www.nwrawildlife.org/content/finding-rehabilitator

And for more information on what to do when you’ve found an animal go here:

http://www.nwrawildlife.org/content/help-ive-found-animal
Please, please, please share this information! I want people to be informed so that less animals have to die, more people can help, and less people and domestic animals have to worry about rabies. Share this on your blog, share it with friends, pass it on. You’d be doing both humans and wildlife a favor!!