What to do if you find a distressed or injured animal in the wild?


WATERTOWN, N.Y. (WWTI) — As more New Yorkers continue to enjoy the outdoors with the start of spring, the chances of running into wild animals increase. But what happens if the animal you run into is in distress or injured?

According to officials from the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Region 6 Office, this is a situation that is very common in the North Country.

The first thing outdoor recreationists should do: Contact the local DEC.

“If we can get there in a timely manner, we can bring it to get the medical help it needs,” stated DEC Environmental Conservation Police Officer Lieutenant Steven Bartoszewski. “Once any type of immediate injuries is taken care of. the DEC has a network of wildlife rehabilitators who are permitted through the department with, so the animal can be then transferred.”

According to Lieutenant Bartoszewski, if the caller is able to remain with the animal until help arrives, they should be wary of the animal’s instincts.

“Try not to approach it. Try not to bring too big of a crowd into it because the more people there are, the more nervous the animal gets and could cause additional issues,” warned Bartoszewski.

Springtime also increases the chances of running into a baby or young animal. Although these animals may seem abandoned, it’s best to let nature “do its thing.” 

Or in Bartoszewski’s words: “If you care, leave it there.”

“You know, just because it appears to be by itself, doesn’t mean the mothers out there somewhere, watching,” he added.

If you do come across one that is injured, remember to keep the safety of both yourself and the animal at the forefront. 

Below are numbers to call if you see an animal injured or distressed.

  • Weekdays, call your local DEC Regional Wildlife Office
    • Central: (518) 402-8044
    • Region 2: (718) 482-4922
    • Region 3: (845) 256-3098
    • Region 4: (518) 357-2355 Schenectady, (607) 652-7367 Stamford
    • Region 5: (518) 897-1291 Ray Brook, (518) 623-1200 Warrensburg
    • Region 6: (315) 785-2263 Watertown, (315) 866-6330×116 Herkimer, (315) 265-3090 Potsdam
    • Region 7: (607) 753-3095×247
    • Region 8: (585) 226-5380 Avon, (607) 622-8273 Bath, (585) 948-5182 Basom, (315) 365-2134 Montezuma
  • Weekends: call the Environmental Conservation Officers dispatch line:
    • 1-877-457-5680

To locate a wildlife rehabilitator near you, visit the DEC website.

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