Urban Wildlife Encounters

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As urban areas expand, more and more people will find themselves face to face with a wild animal. Two of the most common encounters are hurt and orphaned creatures. What should you do when those encounters happen?

First, it’s important to know if the animal is actually injured or orphaned. If an animal is obviously injured — with bleeding wounds, or broken limbs — contact a wildlife rehabilitator. There are very few licensed rehabilitators in the Rio Grande Valley. However, Texas Parks and Wildlife Department does provide a list by county on its website, tpwd.texas.gov/huntwild/wild/rehab. It is never advisable to try to rehabilitate an animal on one’s own. Many animals are protected by law from possession, including all native bird species, and may bite or otherwise harm you if handled.

Unfortunately, many young animals are inadvertently “kidnapped” by well-intentioned passers-by, thinking they’re abandoned. In reality, the young animals often still are receiving parental care. Animal parents are stealthy by nature, taking care not to attract predators — including humans — to their young. They may also be away for lengthy periods of time depending on the species and their offspring’s age.

Young birds are especially common abductees. Fledglings — young birds grown enough to leave the nest — have shorter tail and wing feathers than adults, but are still capable of weak flight. They do not need assistance, except to get them away from immediate danger like a car or domestic dog or cat.

Nestlings are young birds not yet capable of leaving the nest. They usually have developing feathers, or pin feathers, and exposed patches of skin. Fallen nests and nestlings should be returned to their nest tree, if possible. If not, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.

Another common sight is a turtle crossing a road. The most one should do is move the turtle off the road in the direction it was going. They should only be handled by their shell, never their limbs.

Never handle an animal without knowing what it is. When in doubt, call your local nature center or wildlife agency for advice. In general, it’s best to leave the animal alone. They have been here long before towns and cities — people should make every effort to safely share the space with them.

Learn more about Quinta Mazatlán by visiting www.quintamazatlan.com or calling (956) 681-3370.

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