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Living with Wildlife: Common Questions

Living with Wildlife
Introduction & Species | Interacting with Wildlife | Common Questions

As urbanization continues to grow highly populated areas, wildlife habitat is radically and rapidly changing. Due to these habitat changes, some wildlife has become displaced while other wildlife quickly adapts and thrives in human-dominated niches. As people change habitats, the occurrences of human/wildlife interactions may also increase, and those interactions may not always be positive and therefore may require solutions. Common wildlife that may take advantage of human resources include raccoons, opossums, coyotes, white-tailed deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species. Information on solutions for come common wildlife interactions are below.

A raccoon, squirrel, or opossum is in my house, what can I do?

If you are the homeowner or tenant, you can buy a cage trap and trap the animal on your property without a permit. Learn more about appropriate trapping methods and bait to use. You can find traps at hardware stores and garden centers.

After trapping it, you must then either release the animal within the same county on property where you have permission to release it, or you can kill the animal (in compliance with local ordinances and following AVMA guidelines).

If you do not want to trap it yourself, you can contact a qualified Animal Control Operator.

An animal is getting into my bird feeders, what can I do?

Bring your birdfeeders into the house at night, or attach baffles to the poles or hanging wires where the birdfeeders are attached to prevent the animal from getting into the birdseed. You can also try hanging your feeders 8 to 10 feet off the ground. Try to avoid having seed accumulate on the ground. In some cases, take down birdfeeders for 2 to 4 weeks to encourage wildlife to move to another location.

I saw a coyote, should I be concerned?

A coyote is not likely to attack a human, even a child, but conflicts with pets may occur. Follow the suggestions for keeping wildlife interactions positive to prevent conflicts with coyotes.

I found a bird out of its nest, what should I do with it?

Discern if the bird is a hatchling or a fledgling. Hatchlings are generally naked, with only a few down feathers on bare skin. They are likely to be only a few days old and are often huddled with their siblings. Hatchlings, if uninjured, should be returned to the nest or a nest-like structure where they were found. After returning them to the nest, leave the area. Human scent will not deter a mother from returning; however, a mother will not return if humans are hovering nearby.

Fledglings have most of their adult feathers with fully feathered tails and wings. They can hop, walk, and flutter on their own. They are unable to fly, but often leave the nest to practice getting food. If fledglings are uninjured and in a safe area, they should be left alone. If necessary, you can move the fledgling to an immediately adjacent area with cover for safety.

If the bird is injured, call a permitted rehabilitator and make arrangements to either transport it immediately to the rehabilitator’s facility or keep it in a box away from animals and other humans until the rehabilitator can pick it up.

Most wild birds are protected by state and/or federal law and can only be possessed by licensed or permitted individuals.

I need help with Canada geese that are creating problems on my property. What can I do?

If Canada geese are nesting on your property, you can remove the nest and addle the eggs by going online and registering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You must have the permit prior to egg and nest destruction activities.

To remove adult geese, you will need to contact a District Wildlife Biologist to fill out a Waterfowl Permit Request or to discuss other management options. Please visit our Canada goose management page for more information.

I found a nest of baby animals, and I think the mother has abandoned them. How do I take care of them?

The best way to make sure an animal is truly orphaned is to wait and check it periodically. If you are unsure, place some strings or sticks across the nest. If they are later disturbed, the mother has returned. Do not hover—mother animals will not return if humans are standing nearby.

If the nest becomes destroyed, and the baby animals are unharmed, you can place them back in a nest or nest-like structure and leave the area. Human scent does not deter a mother from returning.

I found a fawn by itself, what should I do?

If you find a fawn by itself, with no obvious signs of injury, wait and check it periodically. If the fawn is not injured, the mother is likely close by. If the fawn has obvious signs of injury or if it is known that the mother has been killed, you can contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. White-tailed deer are protected by law and cannot be kept as a pet.

I found a baby wild animal, and I think it is orphaned. Can I keep it as a pet?

No. If you find a baby wild animal that is truly orphaned, the only action you can take is to take it to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Remember that wild animals are just that—wild animals—and should be left in the wild. Many of them carry a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals. A permit is required to keep a wild animal as a pet, but the law does not allow baby wild animals to be kept as pets if the animal was not obtained lawfully.

I found a dead bird. Can I keep it? Should I report it?

A bird cannot be kept for personal use unless it is a non-protected species such as a European starling, English sparrow, or feral pigeon. All other birds are protected by state and/or federal law. A person also cannot possess any bird parts such as feathers, nests, or eggs without the proper permit. For donation to a school, university, or nature center for an educational display, a permit needs to be obtained from the DNR. Non-profit organizations, nature centers, and other educational organizations can request a salvage permit for this purpose.

There are many ordinary causes of wild bird mortality including disease, weather events, predation, trauma from flying into buildings, windows or power lines, and legal pest control. In many instances, dead wild birds may not be routinely collected by authorities for testing.

According to Indiana State Department of Health guidelines, if you need to dispose of a dead bird, do not handle it with your bare hands. Use gloves or a plastic bag turned inside out over your hand to pick up the bird and dispose of the bird/bag in the trash. Do not touch your face and wash your hands thoroughly after disposal.

If you find multiple dead wild birds in an area, you can fill out a Report Sick or Dead Wildlife form or contact your District Wildlife Biologist.

I found a dead or injured bat, what should I do with it?

If you find a dead or sick bat, report it to the DNR using our Report Sick or Dead Wildlife form. There are many ordinary causes of bat mortality including disease, weather events, dehydration, predation, insecticide/pesticide treatments, or juvenile fatalities. In some instances, dead or sick bats may be collected by authorities for testing.

Do NOT pick up a bat with your bare hands. Any wild animal can carry disease; therefore, precautions should be taken if an animal needs to be moved. Wear heavy-duty leather gloves and scoop up the bat with a shovel or container. If the bat is alive, move it to an immediately adjacent tree branch, away from nearby buildings if possible. To dispose of a dead bat, scoop it into a plastic bag. Place it into another plastic bag, close it securely, spray with disinfectant, and dispose of it in your trash.

If there is any question about whether a person or animal has been bitten or scratched by a bat, contact your county health department immediately to make arrangements to have the bat tested. The most common test conducted on bats is for the rabies virus; however, a very small percentage of bats submitted to the Indiana State Department of Health test positive for the disease.

My child brought home a turtle, can we keep it?

It is not recommended that wild turtles be kept as pets. They are long-lived, require proper care, and can carry Salmonella bacteria; however, some species of turtles can be collected from the wild, depending on species. To collect an allowed species from the wild, a person must have a permit or a hunting or fishing license. Protected species such as Eastern box turtles and alligator snapping turtles and their eggs cannot be collected at any time from the wild. If you see one of a turtle crossing the road and would like to help it, a turtle can be picked up and moved to the other side of road in the direction it was heading. Turtles should not be handled by their tails. Instead, turtles should be handled by grasping the back of their shells firmly with two hands. Never compromise personal safety to assist wildlife. If you find a turtle that is injured, you may contact a permitted wildlife rehabilitator. Turtles do not provide care to their young once eggs are laid. No species of turtle eggs are to be collected from the wild.

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