With the warm summer month upon us, you’re likely spending more time outdoors. If you run into what looks like a lost wild animal during one of your outings, they are best left alone. Regardless of how adorable and helpless they may look, resist the temptation to rescue wild animals unless they are seriously injured.

Even baby animals wandering by themselves may likely have a mother out hunting or even keeping a close watch from the bushes. If you find a baby animal, remove potential threats such as dogs and lawnmowers and wait to see if the mom returns at the end of the day. Only the parents can teach the baby everything it needs to know about hunting and surviving in the wild so it’s best for the baby to stay with its parents if at all possible.

However, if you find a wild animal that is obviously hurt, you can help by contacting the nearest wildlife rehabilitation center. Depending on where you live, it may be necessary to transport the injured animal to the rehab center. The specialists at the center will explain how to handle the animal and reduce shock while transporting it to their center. Don’t try to pick up the animal without first talking to an expert. Even a weakened or sick animal can seriously injure you.

Even if you were to bring a wild animal home and nurse them back to health yourself, they rarely make good pets. Cute and adorable babies grow up to be big and unpredictable animals. Exotic and wild animals such as skunks and poisonous snakes are often unhappy in captivity and can become dangerous and aggressive even if they appeared harmless at first. The Humane Society discourages the domestication of wild animals because they typically don’t get the proper food and specialized medical care required.

It can be hard not to lavish our love and attention on what looks like a lonely wild animal, but it’s usually in their best interest if you leave them alone. If you have questions about what to do when you come upon a wild animal, contact the Woodburn Pet Hospital at 503-981-4622 or the American Wildlife Foundation in Molalla at 503-529-9453.

Dr. Patrick L. Paradis is a veterinarian and the owner of Woodburn Pet Hospital. He has been practicing in Woodburn for over 26 years and specializes in small animal general medicine and surgery, canine dentistry and orthopedic surgery. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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