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Baby Gray Squirrels in care. Photo by Ann Westling

April 1, 2019 – With the emergence of recent spring weather, Wildlife Rehabilitation and Release (WR&R) offers the following suggestions to minimize impacts on nesting or young wild animals. And if interested in helping rehabilitate orphaned baby mammals see below for training session.

Training for New At-Home Small Mammal Rehabbers Sunday, April 7

A training for new at-home small mammal rehabbers will be held Sunday, April 7 at WR&R’s Intake Center, 809 Maltman Dr, Grass Valley (in the Brunswick Basin across the street from Taco Bell, next to Walker’s Office Supply). This training is from 1:00 until 4:00. It will be an interactive training complete with orphaned squirrel babies. Class size is limited so reservations are important. Contact Bev Myers, 805-404-1008 or Paula Elliot – 530-263-1970.

If You Find a Baby Animal – Leave it Alone!

Baby Opossum ready to be weighed. Photo by Ann Westling

If you find a baby animal hidden in the grass, do not touch it or pick it up! Chances are the mom is feeding nearby and will come collect the baby. Deer, rabbits, and other species leave their young hidden in tall grass or weeds. They will come back for it. Keep dogs and other pets out of the area. If the baby is still there the next day, or if it seems sick, cold, or crying, call Wildlife Rehab and Release Hot Line, (530-432-5522).

If the mother has been killed or does not come back for the baby, DO NOT GIVE the Baby FOOD OR WATER! Baby animals have different food requirements. You can kill a baby animal by giving it the wrong food or any food! An animal that is chilled or dehydrated can not process food.

Reinforce Fences Around Chicken Houses – Make Gardens/Orchards Less Attractive

WR&R recommends a variety of methods to discourage critters from denning/nesting around one’s home early in the spring. Make your home and property unattractive to wildlife. Don’t leave cat or dog food outside. Critter proof your chicken house. Use chain link instead of chicken wire. Raccoons and foxes will be less likely to get in. Use electronic eye sprinklers, noise makers, and dogs to make an orchard or garden less attractive to hungry wildlife. Once born however, please leave the animals alone until the mother feels they are old enough to move them along. Have patience, they will move in a few short weeks, and it can be a joy to watch them grow.

Inspect Trees for Bird/Squirrel Nests Before Removal

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It is important to carefully survey a tree for nests before it is cut down to reduce the chances of injuring or killing small mammals or birds. Late fall is the best time to remove trees or brush.

Check for Nesting Wildlife Before Burning Brush Piles

Carefully examine any burn piles left over winter for the presence of birds and small mammals. Setting piles on fire can lead to major injuries and death for many small animals or birds.

WR&R recommends, that since we all live in wildlife habitat, please consider these tips to reduce impacts on local wildlife.

Summary: Tips for Protecting Wild Birds and Animals in the Early Spring

  • Leave baby animals alone that are hidden in the grass.
  • If the mother has been killed, contact WR&R for help. Do not give baby food or water!
  • Make gardens/orchards less attractive/accessible to wildlife.
  • Always inspect a tree or bush for nests including those of birds and squirrels before cutting it down.
  • Always inspect brush piles for nesting animals and birds before setting them on fire.

WR&R is the all-volunteer non-profit organization that rehabilitates and releases injured or orphaned native birds and animals in Nevada County. For assistance with an injured or orphaned native bird or mammal, contact WRR’s hotline – 530-432-5522 or WR&R’s Intake Center – 530-477-5774 after April 15.