Wildlife Hotline: (516) 674-0982
Wildlife Center of Long Island
Wildlife Hotline: (516) 674-0982

What to Do If You Find an Injured or Orphaned Animal

Remain calm and follow the steps below so we can get help as fast as possible to the injured or orphaned animal

Step 1 - Take a photo/video

Take a photo or video of the animal in distress. This will allow us to deduce important information such as species, age, and the animal’s condition.

Step 2 - Contain the animal

Follow the steps below to safely and quickly contain an injured wild animal.

Step 3 - Call our wildlife hotline

Email photos/videos to [email protected]

Then, call our wildlife hotline at (516)674-0982

If we do not pick up, leave a message and we will call you back as soon as possible.

How to contain injured wildlife

Wild animals, unlike domestic animals, view people as predators. When they are injured, they are very stressed and don’t understand we want to help! Injured wildlife will instinctually try to hide. It is important that they are rescued as quickly as possible.

General guidelines for containing injured wildlife:

Contain Injured Animal

Prepare a container

Injured wildlife should be put in a smooth-sided container that they cannot see out of. This will keep them safe and reduce stress and the chance of the animal further injuring itself. Please do not house a wild animal in a bird cage or metal wire cat/dog cage.

A cardboard box is ideal, but a plastic storage tub can also be used. Before catching the animal, make plenty of air holes in the container and place a thick towel on the bottom of the container for traction.


Catch the animal

Please keep personal safety in mind during rescue. Wear thick safety gloves as needed when handling wildlife, especially for mammals and raptors.

If the animal is able to walk, try to back it up against a building, fence, or other solid object. If none are available, a large bed sheet can be held stretched out in the front of the animal to mimic a solid wall. Approach the animal quickly, calmly, and quietly.

When close to the animal, toss a heavy towel/blanket over the animal’s head and body. Most small animals will be weighed down by the towel/blanket. The animal can then be picked up (while under the towel) and moved into the container. Then, the lid to the container can be securely closed.

If you are unable to contain the animal yourself, please do not leave the area! Remain a few feet away from the animal so it does not feel threatened, but make sure you can still keep an eye on the animal. Remember, an injured wild animal will instinctually try to hide and can disappear very quickly. Please contact us through phone and email and we will get back to you ASAP.

Wrap Animal In Towel
Contain Injured Animal
Contain The Animal

After the animal is contained

  • Keep the animal in a quiet location indoors, in a garage/shed or inside a car with the windows open (if outside temperature allows).
  • Keep pets and children away from the animal.
  • Do not attempt to give food, water, medication, or wound treatment.
  • ​Stress can be deadly to injured animals. Let the animal rest and resist the urge to continue to check on the animal.
If it’s after hours and you find an animal that’s definitely injured or orphaned, please contain the animal indoors in a quiet location. Email a photo and your contact information to [email protected] and our rehabilitators will contact you ASAP the next morning.

Yes! Due to the high volume of patients admitted, we are unable to provide updates on animals while they are undergoing rehabilitation. However, we give people the option of being notified of the final outcome-what ultimately happens with the patient. When the patient has left our care, we will email you with an update. A patient’s rehabilitation could be as short as 24 hours or as long as several months depending on the injury, species, and time of year.

Rescue Reminders


Animals entangled in fishing gear, litter, or netting often sustain serious injuries and exhaustion. If you free the animal yourself, please DO NOT RELEASE the animal! Even if you don’t see injuries, the animal will need a full examination and possibly treatment before it is fully healed and able to return to the wild.

Glue Traps

If you find an animal stuck on a glue trap, do not try to free the animal yourself. The first step is to cover the remaining exposed parts of the trap with tissues or paper towels. Then, place the animal (while still on the trap) inside a cardboard box and call our hotline. Animals stuck to glue traps suffer from injuries, feather/fur loss, dehydration, and stress and will need medical care and rehabilitation before they can be released.

Turtle Crossings

If you find a turtle crossing the road, please do not relocate the animal! Help it cross in the same direction that it was traveling, even if it doesn’t seem like an ideal area. Turtles will often cross busy roads in search of a mate, a place to lay eggs, or a location for brumation over the winter months.

Baby Animals

Baby or juvenile wildlife seen without a parent do not always need rescue. Certain species such as Cottontails and Deer leave their young unattended for the majority of the day/night and it’s normal for babies to be without a parent. A baby animal’s best chance of success is to remain in the wild. Unless a baby animal is visibly injured or confirmed to be orphaned, contact our hotline and consult with our rehabilitators before intervening.