Helping Wild Animals in Distress

Helping Wild Animals in Distress
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1 Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-06-08
Unit 1 Slide Deck: Helping Wild Animals in Distress
Unit 2 Transcript: Helping Wild Animals in Distress
Unit 3 Workbook: Helping Wild Animals in Distress
Unit 4 Recording: Helping Wild Animals in Distress

Protect yourself and others and do no harm – these are the two primary guiding principles for organizations working with wildlife. But what does this exactly mean and look like? This webinar provides guidance on humane and best practices when it comes to handling and helping wild animals in distress.

This session’s speakers are Dave Pauli, with decades worth of experience in wildlife rescue and the Director of the Humane Society of the United States; and John Griffin, with 20+ years of field experience in resolving wildlife conflicts and the Senior Director of Urban Wildlife Programs for the HSUS.

Their discussion covered:

  • Points to evaluate before helping or intervening that look into the necessity to rescue, the safety of performing the rescue, the plan for the animal to be rescued, and the status of the animal.
  • A rundown of the items that must be included in a basic rescue kit and information that must be accessible when responding to a distressed wildlife call.
  • The value in reuniting animals that have been separated.
  • How to respond in unique and challenges situations that different species may end up in, to either rescue, release, or reunite.
    • Skunks that end up separated and in tricky situations due to their poor vision.
    • How birds can have their nests blown out.
    • Fawns left by the doe in a field that tend to confuse humans into thinking that it is orphaned or abandoned.
    • Responding to deers that get stuck in a fence or athletic equipment.
    • Safely handling snakes that may end up stuck in structures or inside residences.
    • Special considerations for bats that may accidentally get inside structures or have a colony inside the building.
    • Attending to geese and ducks that live in urban areas that may end up endangering their young.
  • The problem with human garbage management which serves as attractants for smaller wildlife that may end up trapped in garbage bins or stuck in bottles, cans, and other containers.
  • Characteristics of man-made structures that inadvertently provides denning and nesting sites for wildlife and inevitably create conflicts between humans and animals.
    • How snakes can get through open spaces, plumbing, and broken spots in the foundation.
    • How birds, raccoons, and squirrels end up denning, nesting, or trapped in chimneys and stove vents.
  • Critical tips when handling and transporting animals.
  • Questions to ask to clarify calls and reports from citizens about wildlife.
  • How man-made barriers as roads and fences endanger animals and ideas on how to help animals navigate these particularly for turtles and waterfowls.
  • Other unique challenges with wildlife and how these were addressed through ingenuity and innovations.
  • Crucial tips and techniques for anyone working with wildlife that emphasizes:
    • The value of planning to ensure that the animal isn’t harmed, the least amount of restraint is used, and the most humane approach is taken.
    • How humans’ demeanor can dictate the reaction of the animal and the outcome of the scenario.
    • How extreme weather conditions impact efforts to help an animal in distress.
    • The importance of educating the public about the animals and recognizing how to address the root of the conflict with wildlife


Questions from the audience were about:

  • Variability of the seasons based on the region.
  • The use of tasers on larger animals.
  • Coordinating with the US Fish and Wildlife Service when handling protected and endangered species.
  • What a clamshell box is.
  • Addressing altered or damaged properties caused by the wildlife and human’s attempt to help/rescue them.


Other Webinars with HSUS:


Resources and Handouts




View our Animal Welfare Webinar  Schedule and Recordings



This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care & Control Association and is approved for 1 Continuing Education Unit. Please refer to your NACA membership portal for current CEU submission process. Current NACA Members who attend the live presentation or watch the recording will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo. Visit the NACA training page for a complete list of future trainings.




This webinar has been pre-approved by the Maine Animal Welfare Program for 1 Continuing Education Unit for the State of Maine’s ACO annual training. You can find more information about Certification, required annual training or submitting materials for credit at Maine’s Animal Control Officer Resource Page.





** This webinar has been certified by the National Animal Care and Control Association and may be eligible for Continuing Education Units. Please consult your local certification processes for additional details. Current NACA Members who attend will be able to download a jointly issued attendance certificate that includes the National Animal Care & Control Association logo.
Additional Resources
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