TRENTON, N.J. - Two days ago, two friends going for a walk in Collingswood, N.J. stumbled across a nest of 10 baby rabbits tucked in the grass. The pair scooped up the newborn rabbits and removed them from the nest, took them home and attempted to nurse and care for them.
The attempt to “rescue” these animals quickly turned disastrous when they were taken from their native habitat and the care of their mother. Within 24 hours, a number of the bunnies died.
This is the time of year when most wildlife native to Central New Jersey begins producing young and raising them. And often, residents will come across baby mammals, birds and reptiles that appear to be alone and possibly abandoned by their mothers, but in reality are healthy and cared for.
The Mercer County Wildlife Center is urging residents to use common sense and caution whenever they encounter young birds and animals. The Wildlife Center, which treats more than 2,100 injured or ill animals a year, can assist residents in determining whether an animal needs help, and, if so, how to handle and transport the animal safely.
For instance, an owl that has flown into the path of an oncoming car and has injured its wing most definitely needs help. However, many young wild animals that may appear to be abandoned really are not—their mothers are most likely nearby and will return to feed them throughout the day.
If you find an animal in distress, please call the Wildlife Center at (609) 883-6606. The animal may not actually need assistance and removing it from its environment may cause more harm. We will help you decide whether the animal needs care and, if necessary, ask you to bring it to the Center.
Before bringing an animal to us for treatment, please keep it warm and quiet. Handle it as little as possible and keep it away from pets and children. Do not feed the animal or force it to drink water. Any attempt to offer food or water may not be in the best interest of the animal and may actually, in fact, cause harm.
The center accepts wildlife for treatment daily, but domestic animals are not accepted for treatment. If you find a domestic animal in need of care, we will be happy to provide local referral information.
Seasonal hours at the Wildlife Center from May through September are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information on what to do if you find an injured animal, licensed wildlife rehabilitation facilities, and state regulations on rehabilitation of wildlife, please visit the following links: