Thursday, September 9, 2021

Helping Wildlife

 


Helping Wildlife
When To Help...When Not To Help

Have you ever seen a loon struggling to walk, a gull with a broken wing, or a skimmer caught up in some fishing line? Here on the Outer Banks, if you haven't seen a bird in distress, you probably will soon!

Sometimes it can be difficult to determine when a bird is truly in distress, or just exhibiting natural behavior. Knowing the difference can save you some, anxiety, and sometimes can save the bird's life. Occasionally, people who try to help a bird they think is in distress actually cause the bird more harm.

Remember that life is a process here as well as everywhere else, and sometimes we must allow nature to take its course. The reality of nature is that sometimes animals get sick and die. Most wildlife populations on the Outer Banks are healthy and can withstand the deaths of individual animals. However, in the case of endangered or threated species, actions should be taken to help sick individuals. If you should observe a sick animal, which is endangered or threatened, please call on of the organizations provided at the end of this article.

When visiting the Outer Banks, please try to keep a "hands off" attitude. When unsure of whether or not an animal is injured, observe the animal for a couple of hours, while keeping other animals (like dogs) away. Ninety percent of the time, the "injured" animal is only exhibiting natural behavior. Do not try to approach any animal in distress! Many wild birds also carry diseases and parasites, including lice and ticks. It's always best to adopt an "wait and see" attitude - pick up a field guide, observe nature at work, and enjoy your stay on the Outer Banks.

Marine Mammal Stranding Network...................................................252-728-8762
NC Wildlife Resources Commission....................................................252-725-5328
Network for Endangered Sea Turtles....................................................252-441-8622
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service...........................................252-987-1118 (Pea Island)
.....................................................................................252-473-1131 (Alligator River)

Ann Marie Salewski, Wildlife Interpretive Specialist,
Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge

This article was published in Vol. 1 page 14

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