To save wildlife, you have to be observant. The animal in distress pictured below looked like a stone on the road. But when PETA’s field workers got closer, they saw that the “rock” was actually a turtle determined to cross a highway. The turtle was within inches of being run over, and turtles can – due to their slow metabolism – suffer from a crushed shell for days or weeks before succumbing to their injuries.
The field workers swung the van around, jumped out, stopped traffic and got the turtle to safety. Another animal saved!
Always try to help animals in need
Pelicans stranded on a bridge in a hurricane, a dolphin entangled in a fishing line, a deer with a broken leg — helping wildlife around the clock, PETA field workers rescued them all. But wildlife emergencies can happen anywhere, so be prepared. Rule #1: Never go in thinking, “Someone else will help” – they probably won’t. You are the one who helps!
Turtles help to cross the road
If you see a turtle in traffic, stop and turn on your hazard lights. Pick up small turtles and gently push large or snapping turtles into a box or onto a flat surface. Take them in the direction they were going. Never turn them around – they know where they want to go and will return to a dangerous area if diverted. In addition, an apparently “dead” turtle is often still alive. Squeeze a back toe or touch the corner of your eye to check for a reaction. Rush the turtle to the nearest vet or animal shelter if you see any sign of life.
Keep raccoons safe from waste
Discarded food containers are irresistible to hungry animals. PETA’s field workers rescue animals that suffered a miserable death from dehydration or strangulation — all because their heads got stuck in a jar or can.
Protect animals by rinsing food containers, putting lids back on, crushing cans and cutting apart plastic six-pack rings. Cover recycling and trash cans to prevent animals from getting trapped in them. And always clean up litter.
An animal whose head is stuck in a container should be secured in a blanket, jacket or cardboard box so that you can carefully remove the container. Oil or grease can help. If that doesn’t work, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
Many baby birds don’t need to be rescued
People often mistakenly “rescue” baby birds that should be left alone. If you see a fallen baby bird with few or no feathers, place it in the nest if possible. Parents will not reject a baby who has been touched by humans. If you can’t find the nest, make one from a basket or paper cup with small holes in the bottom for water to drain when it rains, hang it in a sheltered spot nearby and watch – from a distance – for the parents return.
Novices (young, mostly feathered birds) may flap on the ground as they learn to fly. Their parents are usually nearby. If young fry are in immediate danger, move them to a nearby tree or shrub.
If the bird appears injured or ill, or if the parents do not return, contact a wildlife rehabilitator.
When to ask for help instead?
In most cases, wildlife should be left alone unless you see any of the following: the animal has an obvious injury (such as a broken wing), has been injured by a predator, is trembling or lethargic, is still depending on the parents killed nearby, or in other immediate danger. In these situations, call a wildlife rehabilitator for help.
Take action now
Get ready for an animal emergency: Read our “How to make your own animal emergency kit.” You can also spread the word for local wildlife with a PETA yard sign, available to order from the PETA Shop.
This article was originally published in PETA Worldwidea quarterly magazine sent to PETA members. Join today to get the print editionor read the online edition for free.