Deer in Spring Landscape

Sick and Injured Wildlife

What to do if you find a sick or injured wild animal

  1. Examine the situation carefully- is the animal really sick or injured? In the spring, it is not uncommon for animals like foxes and raccoons to forage during the day to feed their young. It is also normal for fawns and baby rabbits to be left alone for hours at a time. Sick animals will often be very lethargic and may sneeze, act disoriented (walk in circles), be emaciated, drool, pant, shiver, or sit with ruffled feathers. Injured animals may limp, drag limbs, or have obvious wounds. Often letting some time pass will reveal whether or not an animal needs help.

  2. Examine the environment carefully- is it safe for anyone to attempt to rescue an animal? If an animal is in pain or is acting like it has rabies, then secure all people and pets to avoid a potential conflict. Sick or injured wild animals may bite and scratch and may pose a risk to humans.

  3. Contact Wildlife Services toll-free at 1-877-463-6497 or contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator before attempting to handle the animal. They will give you the best advice on what to do and what not to do if you attempt rescue. NOTE: An unlicensed citizen may NOT attempt to rehabilitate an animal on their own. This is legislated through COMAR 08.03.12.

In Maryland, there is a large network of volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitators who take care of orphaned, sick or injured wildlife until they can be released safely back to the wild. If you think you have found an orphaned animal, then please check our “Think Twice before Rescuing Young Wildlife page” before calling someone.

To report nuisance, injured or sick wildlife (Monday - Friday, 8:00 am - 4:30 pm)
Call Wildlife Services Toll-free in Maryland: 1-877-463-6497

MD DNR’s Role

Unfortunately, the MD DNR’s Wildlife and Heritage Service (WHS) does not have the staff or resources to respond to every injured or distressed wildlife report. WHS also does not rehabilitate wildlife, but they do administer permits for those interested in becoming licensed. For questions, please contact our general wildlife line at 410-260-8540 between 8:00am-4:30pm Monday-Friday.

Additional Resources: