Frequently Asked Questions
What kind of animals do you take at your hospital?
Volunteers for Wildlife accepts all wildlife that is native to New York such as:
- Birds including songbirds, shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors, and pelagic (sea) birds.
- Mammals, most frequently rabbits, opossums, and squirrels.
- Reptiles, such as land turtles, water turtles, and snakes.
-Four non-native species: Mute Swans, Rock Pigeons, House Sparrows, and European Starlings.
There are just a few exceptions to the animals that we cannot accommodate at our hospital. Should you have a question about any of these species, or need help identifying an animal, feel free to contact us.
- Raccoons, Skunks, and Bats – Volunteers for Wildlife cannot accept these species. In New York State, these are considered Rabies Vector Species, and they require a special license to treat them. Please contact us for references if you have found one of these animals.
- Domestic animals such as escaped pets, feral cats, and farm-type animals are not considered wildlife. For assistance with these animals, see our links.
Some veterinarians (especially those that treat exotics) will accept wild animals, and some will not. Please call them in advance to find out. Furthermore, people often mistake healthy young animals for orphans. We encourage you to read our articles about how to determine if an animal is truly orphaned before you take it to a vet or rehabilitator. Many animals are brought to us each year that were not in need of help, and were inadvertently kidnapped. A young animal is always better off in its natural environment, raised by its own parents; we do not want wild animals to grow up in captivity needlessly.
Wild animals are often brought to our hospital after being injured by cars, caught by cats or dogs, or hurt by landscaping equipment. Birds are often injured when they collide with windows, having mistaken the reflection of sky in the glass for open space. Birds of prey are sometimes brought to our hospital after they are affected by poison. Chemicals put down to kill insects and rodents can make their way through the food chain, inadvertently causing serious illness or death in these top-level predators.
In the spring, we receive hundreds of calls regarding young animals that have been found and are thought to be orphans. Fortunately, most young wild animals are not truly orphaned, and we spend a lot of time counseling the public about how to reunite a young animal with its parents. Some animals make it to our hospital a few weeks after they were originally found. Well-meaning attempts to raise them in captivity can often have disastrous effects on their health, as a young animal can suffer greatly from malnutrition when they are fed the wrong things in captivity. Please consult our articles or a wildlife rehabilitator prior to administering care on your own.
What do I do if I find an injured animal?
Please see our Rescue 101 page. This page contains rescue instructions for different animals. If you believe the animal is not injured, but orphaned, please see our Wildlife Help page.
If I bring an animal to your hospital, will I have to pay?
Wildlife Rehabilitators are not allowed to charge for services, but please remember that our organization depends almost entirely on donations. Only a very small portion of our budget is provided by state grants. Many animals are left at our hospital without even the smallest donation to help care for them. Please help us continue the work that we do by making a donation or sponsoring an animal – visit our Donate page for more information.
Volunteers for Wildlife, and all licensed wildlife rehabilitators, rely on donations by caring individuals who bring us wildlife. Each animal requires a complex diet, medical care, and various supplies necessary for the upkeep of their enclosures and the hospital itself. Donations are always appreciated. You can also become a member of our organization.
The majority of the cases we see in our hospital are because of harm done to wild animals and their habitats by humans. Continual development of land in New York has taken the home of countless turtles, mammals, and birds. Cars have taken the lives of hundreds of rabbits, squirrels, raccoons and opossums. Injuries from cast away fishing line, plastic six-pack rings, and litter is common, as are birds and small mammals being caught on glue-traps. Chemicals used to kill insects and rodents have a wide range of serious effects on wild birds, including reproductive failure, deformities in bone growth, behavioral abnormalities, internal bleeding, and death.
We recognize that what we do helps only a small fraction of the wild animals on Long Island, but it is not only these individuals who benefit. The work we do gives us the opportunity to educate our volunteers and the general public on how to prevent some of these events from occurring. Anyone who brings us an animal, volunteers with us, or attends our education programs has a chance to develop a lifelong interest in conservation and wildlife biology based on their experiences with our hospital.
I've found an animal in need, but I don't want to touch it. Will your organization come pick it up?
Because our resources are limited, we do have to be selective about what animals we can pick up. Please remember that we are primarily a hospital, and we need our staff and volunteers to take care of the animals already in our care before we can leave to pick up more. Our capacity for rescue is limited. We do not have traps, dart guns, boats, or tower ladders at our disposal to assist us in containing an animal. Fortunately, most animals can be safely and easily contained by the general public. Check out our Rescue FAQ page for information on how to safely contain an animal.
We generally limit our rescue/transport operations to assist people who have found an animal that is potentially dangerous and may injure anyone who tries to handle it, or elderly people who are unable to capture an animal and bring it to our facility. Please remember this when you ask us to pick up an “easy” animal – while we are helping you, we are leaving the rest of our community at a disadvantage and may be risking their safety.