Q & A: “Helping” Orphaned Wildlife

Photo Credit: Courtesy of CDFW

by California Department of Fish & Wildlife

Question: My sister has told me about two separate incidents where young people have found young wild animals – a coyote pup and a gosling of undetermined species – and taken them home. I’m curious if you have guidelines for people who find themselves in this situation, i.e. coming across young wildlife that appear to be without parents. Are there regulations governing the keeping of wild young? I always direct people to contact their local wildlife rescue organization. (Terriann)

Answer: CDFW strongly discourages anyone from picking up young wildlife that they perceive to be orphaned. Often, the mother is foraging for food and will return. You are correct to refer these individuals to the nearest wildlife rehabilitation organization. A list of authorized wildlife rehabilitators can be found on CDFW’s website. These organizations operate under an agreement with CDFW to take in and treat injured, sick or orphaned wildlife.

It is NOT legal for an untrained, unauthorized private citizen to possess naturally occurring, wild mammals or birds. For more information, please visit CDFW’s Keep Me Wild program webpage.

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