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Frequently Asked Questions and Answers to Nuisance Wildlife

A raccoon (or squirrel or opossum) is in my attic, what can I do?

If you are the homeowner or tenant, you can buy a live-trap and trap a raccoon, squirrel or opossum 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.

You must then either release the animal within the same county on property where you have permission, or you can kill the animal (in compliance with local ordinances). 

If you do not want to trap it yourself, you can hire someone. A list of licensed nuisance wild animal control operators can be found on our website.

A raccoon is getting into my bird feeders, what can I do?

Bring your bird feeders in the house at night, or attach baffles to the poles or hanging wires where the bird feeders are attached to prevent them from getting into the bird seed. Also, try to keep bird seed from landing on the ground.

I saw a coyote in my neighborhood the other night; will it attack my children or pets?

A coyote is not likely to attack a human, even a child, but would consider a cat, small dog, or rabbit as a food source.  Some suggestions to keep them away from your home include:

  • Do not leave cat or dog food out at night. Feed pets indoors whenever possible; pick up leftovers if feeding outdoors and store pet and livestock feed where it’s inaccessible to wildlife
  • Eliminate water bowls and other artificial water sources (if possible)
  • Position bird feeders in a location that is less likely to attract small animals or bring the feeders in at night (to keep coyotes from feeding on the bird food or the other animals)
  • Do not discard edible garbage where coyotes can get to it
  • Secure garbage containers
  • Trim and clean shrubbery near ground level to reduce hiding cover for coyotes or their prey
  • Do not allow pets to run free and provide secure nighttime housing for them
  • If you start seeing coyotes around your home, discourage them by shouting, making loud noises or throwing rocks but NEVER corner a coyote – always give the coyote a free escape route.

I found an injured bird, what should I do with it?

Call a licensed rehabilitator and either transport it immediately to their facility or keep it in a box away from animals and other humans until the rehabilitator can pick it up.  Go here for a list of licensed rehabilitators on our website.

Most wild birds are protected by state and/or federal law and can only be possessed by licensed 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 destroy or addle the eggs by going on-line and registering with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. If you want someone to assist you, you can provide that information when registering. 

To remove adult geese, you will need to contact the DNR to obtain the names of individuals that are permitted to trap and relocate or euthanize nuisance Canada geese. A list of these individuals is available here. 

Learn how to help prevent problems with Canada geese on our website.

I found a nest of baby rabbits or squirrels (or other baby animals) and I think the mother has abandoned them, how do I take care of them?

First of all, most baby animals that you will find have not been abandoned. Adult animals frequently leave their young to forage for food, but they rarely abandon their young. For example, mother rabbits only visit the nest a couple of times a day. If a bird has fallen, it is ok to gently return it to the nest.

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.

If you find what looks like an orphaned fawn, just wait and check it periodically. Before taking any action, remember the following:

  •  If the fawn is not injured, the mother is likely nearby.
  • Leave the fawn alone and its mother will probably come and get it. Deer can take better care of their young than a human can.
  • Human scent on the fawn will not prevent the mother from taking care of it.
  • If you do not see any deer nearby, have someone keep a lookout nearby that can watch the fawn without being seen by the mother. In most cases, the mother will come back and get the fawn after you leave the area.

Remember that wild animals are just that – wild animals – and should be left in the wild. White-tailed deer are protected by law and cannot be kept as a pet. Wild rabbits, squirrels, and most other species of animals found in the wild are also regulated by the DNR. Please call a licensed rehabilitator near you and either transport the animals to the rehabilitator immediately, or keep them in a box until the rehabilitator arrives. You can find a  list of licensed rehabilitators on our website. Wild animal rehabilitation permits are issued to qualified individuals who take in sick, injured, or orphaned wild animals with the intent of releasing them back into the wild. 

I found a baby rabbit, squirrel, raccoon, skunk, or other 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 in the spring and summer, it must be taken to a licensed rehabilitator. Remember that wild animals are just that – wild animals – and should be left in the wild. Many of them, including raccoons, carry a variety of diseases that can be transmitted to humans and domestic animals. Furthermore, a permit is required to keep one as a pet, but the law does not allow baby wild animals to be kept as pets if the animal was not obtained lawfully. You can find a  list of licensed rehabilitators on our website.

I found a dead bird, can I keep it? Should I report it?

No, 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 posses any parts such as feathers, nests, or eggs without the proper permit. You can donate it to a school, university, or nature center for an educational display, but a permit will need to be obtained from the DNR to do so. Non-profit organizations, nature centers, and other educational organizations can request a salvage permit to have it mounted and used for an educational display.

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. You can follow these recommended disposal procedures regardless of the cause of death, if testing is not available.

Currently, the most common diseases of concern in birds are Avian Conjunctivitis, Histoplasmosis, and West Nile Virus. 

If you find a dead crow, jay, or raptor (hawks, owls, and falcons) contact your local health department since these birds may be tested for West Nile Virus in your county.

If you find multiple dead wild birds in an area, you can report it to your District Wildlife Biologist. They will inform you if further action is needed or if the birds should be tested.

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 online form.

There are many ordinary causes of bat mortality including disease, weather events, dehydration, predation, insecticide/pesticide treatments, or juvenile fatalities (being separated from nursing colonies). 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 a 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 that 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 percent 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?

For some common species, yes you can. However, it depends on what kind of turtle it is. A red-eared slider or painted turtle (usually found in the water) and a few other species can be collected from the wild and kept without a permit, but there is a limit of four per species, and the person has to have a fishing or hunting license (unless exempt, such as children under the age of 18). Box turtles, which are commonly seen crossing roads in the springtime, cannot be collected from the wild and kept as a pet. If you see one crossing the road, it can be picked up and moved to the other side of road in the direction it was heading, but it cannot be brought home and kept as a pet. If you find one that is injured, please contact a licensed rehabilitator. You can find a  list of licensed rehabilitators on our website. If you do decide to keep a red-eared slider or painted turtle as a pet, please note that they can carry salmonella and precautions must be taken when handling them, especially by little children. Please read information about salmonella  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. These turtles also can grow up to around 8 inches in diameter and require special food and lighting. For more information about regulations on reptiles and amphibians, visit our website.