Dealing with Orphaned or Injured Wildlife

Wildlife is very active during the late spring and summer, and it’s common to come across baby fawns, moose calves, fox, raccoons and other young wildlife in fields, woodland areas, and even backyards.

If you care, leave them there.

If you encounter wildlife anywhere in the Maine outdoors, remember this motto: If you care, leave them there. Wild animals and birds do not make good pets, and it’s against the law to possess them without the proper state and federal permits.

Picking up young wildlife might seem like the right thing to do; but in most cases, wildlife has a much better chance at survival when not disrupted by humans. Direct contact with wildlife can also expose you to a variety of diseases, and it can lead to an animal being euthanized in order to test for rabies.

Is it an orphan?

It is common to see a young animal alone in the outdoors, and when you do, you may worry that it has been abandoned by its mother. It probably hasn’t. The mother-young bond in mammals and birds is very strong; and most likely, mom is just searching for food to sustain her young. The best thing you can do if you come across a healthy young animal or bird is leave it alone; and if you have pets, put them inside or on a leash so they don’t disturb the young wildlings.

When you encounter specific species, here are some additional tips to keep in mind:

Fawns: It is always best to leave fawns alone, and you should never attempt to feed them under any circumstances. The nutrient profile of a mother’s milk enables a doe to leave her fawn for many hours while she feeds on her own to sustain the demands of nursing. Until the fawn is strong enough to keep up and come along, an adult doe may hide her fawn in the forest floor leaves, returning two or three times a day to nurse. During this time, the fawn is protected from predators by its camouflaged coat and its lack of scent. Repeated visits to a fawn can draw the attention of predators, and could discourage the mother from returning.

Moose calves: Treat moose calves as you would fawns, but also be aware that approaching or handling a moose calf is likely to elicit a defensive response from a mother moose if it is nearby.

Squirrels or Raccoons: If a nest of squirrels or raccoons must be disturbed (for example, if a tree has been cut down or fallen), leave the young in the den part of the tree and move them nearby to a protected place. The mother will most likely come back and transport them to a new location.

Birds: I Found a Baby Bird – Now What? (PDF) is a flow chart that can help you decide whether a baby bird needs rescue.  If the youngster seems healthy and is in no immediate danger, a family reunion should be attempted, for example, by placing the bird in a substitute nest, as suggested in the flow chart. Unfortunately, there is no all-purpose strategy for substitute nesting, as different kinds of birds prefer different types and locations of nests. For example, parent birds from a cavity-nesting or ground-nesting species are unlikely to tend offspring placed in a substitute nest hanging from a tree branch.  For further consultation, Avian Haven may be contacted directly at 207-382-6761. 

If you have observed a young wild animal alone for more than 48 hours and believe it truly may be orphaned, please contact a MDIFW regional biologist or game warden to alert them.  

What if the animal appears injured?

If you encounter an injured deer, bear, moose, or turkey, please contact a MDIFW biologist or game warden. For all other species, please contact local licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Find a local licensed wildlife rehabilitator:

County Name Address Phone Facility Other Info
Androscoggin Jennifer Hale 377 Bishop Hill Road, Leeds ME 04263 207-524-2071 377 Bishops Hill Road, Leeds No birds, but will transport them. Small and medium mammals
Cumberland Kristine (Kris) Beaudoin 320 Longhill Road, Sebago, ME 04029 207-807-1986 320 Longhill Road, Sebago No Birds. Small mammals
Cumberland Wendy Clark 31 Woods Mills Road, East Baldwin, ME 04024 207-595-2140 31 Woods Mills Road, East Baldwin No Birds. Small mammals
Cumberland Pamela Richardson 6 Worcester Drive, Raymond, ME 04071 207-838-8967 66 Worcester Drive, Raymond No birds. Aquatic mammals, small mammals and reptiles.
Cumberland David and Joshua Sparks 108 Range Road, New Gloucester, ME 04260 207-232-2353 or 207-926-3077 108 Range Road, New Gloucester All birds, small and medium mammals.
Cumberland Martha (Kappy) Sprenger 253 Highland Road, Fire Lane 137, Bridgton ME 207-647-5593 253 Highland Road, Fire Lane 137; 1.2 miles from Rte. 302 All birds and mammals. Specializes in fish eating birds and chicks. 1.2 miles from Rte. 302
Hancock Heather Grierson P.O. Box 84, Mt Desert, ME 04660 207-667-3244 446 Bar Harbor Road, Trenton Birds. Small and medium mammals. NO raccoons.
Hancock Stanley Richmond P.O. Box 485, Ellsworth, ME 207-667-1845 or 207-667-8460 Stanwood Wildlife Sanctuary - Bar Harbor Rd past Maine Coast Mall Migratory Birds. No mammals
Hancock Ann Rivers P.O. Box 207, Mount Desert, ME 207-288-4960 49 Black Dog Road, Bar Harbor All Birds including turkeys, turtles and all small mammals EXCEPT Raccoons. Specializes in bats and has facilities for species requiring water
Kennebec Don Cote 1747 North Belfast Avenue, Vasssalboro ME 207-445-4326 1787 North Belfast Avenue, Vassalboro Birds, mammals, turtles and raccoons.
Kennebec Peter Davis D.V.M. 220 Western Avenue, Augusta, ME 207-622-6181 220 Western Avenue, Augusta Pine Tree Veterinary - Full service veterinary hospital available for initial care and subsequent transfer
Knox Margo B. Maloney D.V.M. 22 Atlantic Highway, Thomaston, ME 04861 207-557-5669 22 Atlantic Highway, Thomaston Horse and Hound Veterinary Services - Full service veterinary hospital available for initial care and has mobile triage unit
Lincoln Bridget Green 605 Bath Road, Wiscasset, ME 04578 207-631-0814 Fire Road 608 Approx 2 miles from downtown. Follow Rte. 1 South behind Green's gas station. Gray home back in the woods. No birds. Small mammals, raccoons.
Lincoln Colleen Moureaux 485 Chewonki Neck Road, Wiscasset, ME 04578 207-882-7323 485 Chewonki Neck Road, Wiscasset Chewonki Foundation - Amphibians, bats, large raptors, medium mammals, passerines and other small birds, reptiles, small mammals and small raptors
Lincoln Mary (Betsy) Pratt 434 Pension Ridge Road, Boothbay, ME 04537 207-380-3617 434 Pension Ridge Road - Rte. 27 Boothbay to Hardwick Road; right onto Pension Ridge. No birds. Small mammals.
Other Cathie Gregg P.O. Box 97, Madison, NH 03849 603-367-9453 Route 41 on Silver Lake - Southwest of Fryeburg ME Elaine Connors Center for Wildlife - Birds, small and medium mammals
Oxford Katrina Carstensen 47 Mountain View Drive, Otisfield, ME 04270 207-583-2105 47 Mountain View Drive in Otisfield Birds, small mammals, medium mammals and deer.
Oxford Jacqueline Fanning 11 Baldpate Mountain Drive, Waterford, ME 04088 207-582-6266 11 Baldpate Mountain Drive in Waterford No birds. Small Mammals
Oxford Jody Giddings P.O. Box 1924, Bethel, ME 04217 207-466-4700 146 Glades View Avenue in Newry Amphibians, bats, medium mammals, passerines and other small birds, reptiles, small mammals and small raptors.
Oxford Matthew E. Holden D.V.M. 136 Western Avenue, South Paris, ME 04281 207-743-9271 136 Western Avenue in South Paris Oxford Hills Veterinary Hospital - Full service veterinary hospital.
Penobscot William Arthurs Jr. 2762 Lee Road, Lee, ME 04455 207-403-0921 2762 Lee Road in Lee No birds. Small mammals.
Penobscot Evelyn Jordan 149 Pea Ridge Road, Chester, ME 04457 2207-794-6178 149 Pea Ridge Road in Chester Maine Birds and reptiles.
Penobscot Rachel Parsons 623 Meadow Road, Hampden, ME 04444 207-838-0268 623 Meadow Road in Hampden No birds. Small and medium mammals.
Penobscot Wendy Stevens P.O. Box 42, Springfield, ME 04487 207-290-4712 or 207-731-1192 15 Bunny Lane in Springfield No birds. Small to medium mammals.
Sagadahoc Deborah L Bryan 49 Deer Run Road, Bowdoin, ME 04287 207-607-0110 49 Deer Run Road in Bowdoin No birds. Small to medium mammals.
Waldo Mark Payne, Dianne Winn, Kimberly A. Chavez, Laura Graham 418 North Palermo Road, Freedom, ME 04941 207-382-6761 418 North Palermo Road in Freedom Avian Haven - Birds, including turkeys, and reptiles
Waldo Sandra Stone 240 Swanville Road, Frankfort, ME 04438 207-223-4213 or 207-592-9000 240 Swanville Road in Frankfort No birds. Small and medium mammals.
York Elizabeth (Libby) Peck 4 Wilderness Way, York, ME 03909 207-351-6752 4 Wilderness Way in York No birds. Small and medium mammals.
York Shantelle Spanswick 385 Mountain Road, Cape Neddick, ME 03902 207-361-1400 385 Mountain Road in Cape Neddick The Center for Wildlife - Birds, turtles, small and medium mammals.