As a service to the community, Gage Animal Hospital provides funding and veterinary services for the care of injured and/or orphaned wildlife, with the exception of bats, skunks, snakes, and adult raccoons. Any wildlife brought to GAH will be examined by our veterinarians for illness and injuries, provided necessary medical treatment, and released to volunteer certified rehabilitators with Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue.

There is never a fee of any sort for individuals, for Northeast Kansas Wildlife Rescue, or the City of Topeka, to bring wildlife to GAH.

If an individual discovers wildlife that appears to be orphaned, ill, or injured, that individual may transport the animal directly to GAH. If an individual feels unable to safely transport the distressed animal to GAH, s/he should contact NE Kansas Wildlife Rescue Hotline at 785-575-1991 or City of Topeka Animal Control at 785-368-9484 for assistance.

Sometimes it is difficult to determine if a wild animal needs your help. Before you do anything, assess the situation.

Signs that a wild animal DOES need your help:

  • Obvious injury i.e. blood, broken bones or wings, cuts and/or swelling;
  • Unusual behavior: i.e. too tame, convulsions, staggering, limping, sickly looking;
  • Animal appears thin, poor fur or feathers, or cold;
  • Excessive crying;
  • Has been alone for 24 hours or more or predators are in the area; or
  • Bad weather is coming or has just left the area.

Signs that a wild animal DOES NOT need your help:

  • A healthy, well grown animal near a nest or den, or a baby in or near cover by itself (many wildlife mothers “stash” their babies while feeding);
  • ​A well-feathered young bird hopping or standing on legs; or
  • A rabbit 4-5” long with eyes open, ears up, and hopping around.

If an animal does need your help, follow these instructions:

  • Minimize all handling. Wildlife (especially rabbits) can literally be stressed to death by excessive handling. They also carry a variety of diseases, some of which are transferable to humans.
  • DO NOT feed a wild animal. NEVER offer food to wildlife unless you are specifically instructed to do so by a certified wildlife rehabilitator! Wild animals require different care than domestic pets. Good intentions sometimes cause more harm than good in a wild animal.
  • If you are able to safely capture the injured animal, place it in a clean box with a towel or newspaper lining the bottom. Keep it dry, quiet and warm until it can be safely transported to GAH. Infant wildlife are unable to regulate their body temperature and can easily die from exposure. Excessive noise (i.e. dogs barking) can also stress wild animals to death.
  • Be careful! Avoid touching the wild animal if possible. If you must touch it, wear thick gloves and use extreme caution. Just like humans, animals may become aggressive when cornered and/or injured.
  • NEVER attempt to handle skunks, bats, snakes, or adult raccoons! They carry rabies and other dangerous diseases and parasites, and will not be treated at GAH. For these animals, contact City of Topeka Animal Control.

Always keep in mind, wildlife requires different care than domestic pets.

What types of wildlife can be treated at GAH?

Baby birds normally jump from the nest BEFORE they can fly. Fledgling birds have a “ruffled” appearance (feathers sticking out all over their bodies). The nest simply isn’t big enough to hold the entire family as the babies grow. As a result, fledglings jump to the ground and spread out; mom and dad fly from baby to baby, feeding them on the ground until the rest of their feathers grow in and they learn to fly. This is a dangerous but IMPORTANT time that every bird in the wild must experience.

If you see a baby bird chirping on the ground, please leave it there. If you are unsure, observe from a distance that allows parent birds access — or, if it is in a danger zone, relocate it a safe short distance away. If you have dogs or cats, please try to keep them under control for 2-4 days until the baby birds have moved on.

Birds do not react negatively if humans touch their babies, so if you’ve taken the bird inside while searching for help (or finding this information), it is okay to return it to where you found it. The parents will NOT reject a baby simply because a human has touched it. Fallen nests can also be replaced in the general vicinity, and the parent birds will find it.

Any bird that has come in contact with the mouth of a cat or dog MUST be taken in for proper care. Domestic animals have very high oral bacteria counts; the smallest bite can prove deadly for a bird.

Baby squirrels and racoons are often found on the ground after storms, when trees are trimmed, if one is sick or injured, or if the mother has died and the babies are attempting to locate food.

If there is a chance that the mother is still alive and healthy, she WILL try to retrieve her baby if her baby is warm and healthy. She will not take back a cold baby because she will think it is sick or dying.

If the area is free of predators, fill a plastic water bottle with warm water, cover it with a sock, and place it near the baby. You can warm the bottle in the microwave slightly every few hours to keep it warm. Make sure it’s not too hot since you can easily burn a baby.

You may also try to reunite the babies with the mother by using a small cardboard box filled with nesting material.  Put the makeshift nest 8-10 feet up in the tree to protect it from dogs and cats. If there are birds of prey in the area, try to hide the box in the branches. Walk away. If the baby is crying, you will see area mothers come out to see what is wrong. But remember: they will not come if you are standing there taking pictures.

If the baby is injured and/or cries excessively (with no response from the mother) it is important to bring the animal to GAH as quickly as possible. A good time to wait is 2-3 hours in good weather, or until dark.

When people do not see the mother doe, many are quick to believe the baby has been abandoned and is in need of help.  This is usually not true! Unless you see a dead mother deer, please DO NOT move the baby.  Leave the baby where it is.

Mother deer hides her babies where she believes to be a safe place, in tall grass or near a tree. She returns to nurse her baby, stimulate it to eliminate, and clean it.  Baby deer do not have any scent for the first few weeks of life, but the mother does.  If she remains with her baby, she will attract predators, so she leaves it for hours at a time, returning at dawn and dusk, or to move it to a new location. It may move about a little as its legs get stronger, but mostly it will stay hidden near where its mother left it. If something approaches it, a healthy fawn may flatten itself to the ground and freeze in an effort to blend in.

However, if a found fawn is bleeding or obviously injured, covered in flies or maggots, running around frantically, crying nonstop, running after you, lying stretched out on its side with its head back, lying next to its dead mother, or if it has been left well past the next dawn or dusk, please call for help.

NEVER feed a fawn cow’s milk, infant formula, puppy formula, or any other milk or formula. These can cause severe diarrhea and kill a fawn.   Fawns have delicate digestive systems.