When NOT to Save a Wild Animal

Sep 13, 2022

The woman was frantic,

a bit muddy, and carrying an injured duckling. She arrived that way at Anderson Humane’s wildlife intake, hoping they could mend the animal.

When the staff asked what had happened, the full story emerged. The woman had happened upon the injured duckling, whose mom was nearby “freaking out,” she said. A snapping turtle was trying to eat the duckling and the woman rescued it.

The staff examined the duckling and found that one of his legs was fractured. They knew his injuries were grave. As they expected, he soon died.

“The difficult thing is that now that turtle will have to eat another animal, or go without,” said Ashley Kendall, Anderson Humane’s Director of Wildlife. “A lot of people try to save animals when they’re attacked by other animals. We understand.” But, she points out, sometimes trying to save an animal isn’t the best course of action.

A good rule of thumb? “Don’t try to save wildlife from wildlife,” Ashley said, adding that the animals rarely survive and it disturbs the food chain. “Dogs and cats are different. They have other food sources. But it’s best not to intervene with native wildlife in this situation.”

Plus, the efforts to try to save these injured wild animals takes away from the staff’s ability to treat other animals. “There’s only a 30-40 percent success rate in caring for wildlife,” Ashley said. It’s most ideal when the wildlife team is free to help the animals with the best chance of survival and release back into the wild.

The client who brought in the duckling was understanding, and left that day more knowledgeable about and respectful of local wildlife.

“We get it. No one wants to watch an animal get eaten by another,” Ashley said. “But it’s part of the natural order and very important to the overall health of a local environment.”

Learn more about our wildlife team.

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