The spring and summer months bring beautiful changes to the flora and fauna of Wisconsin. As the weather warms and people enjoy more time out of doors with their animal companions, the chance of encounter with stray and wild animals increase. Each city and county has different regulations in regard to animal control, so resources and services in each area will vary. If you have no previous experience dealing in such matters, or are unsure how to proceed, your local police or sheriff department is the first place to call with animal related questions or concerns. Consider the following if a situation should arise:
Use caution when approaching any animal, wild or domestic.
If it is a wild animal please leave the animal alone for at least 24 hours. This is difficult to do, but many animals that appear injured or abandoned are actually exhibiting defense mechanisms. If the animal has visible injuries such as bleeding or dragging limbs, contact your local police or sheriff department as soon as possible.
Many "abandoned" baby animals and birds have parents close by. Confining or removing the young may actually be separating them from the parent, greatly decreasing their survival. The animal in question is best served by assessing the situation from a distance and keeping activity around the animal to a minimum. Please make sure pets do not have access to the animal. In many cases a mother will return shortly after you leave the vicinity.
If you determine the animal is injured, you can place an inverted box or laundry basket over top of small animals. In some cases a pet carrier or kennel can be used. Keep physical contact to a minimum. Capturing injured wildlife can be dangerous if not done correctly. One wild animal resource in our area is Four Lakes Wildlife Rescue of Madison; you can call them at (608) 838-0413 ext. 151 for further instructions. They do excellent work in the care and/or rehabilitation of wild animals and also have much useful information regarding the care of wild animals on their website https://www.giveshelter.org/four-lakes-wildlife-center.html. Always contact a facility before transferring an animal. Never leave or drop off an injured or stray animal outside of a building. Please keep in mind that special licensing is required to legally care for wild animals. OMHS and local vet offices do not have this licensing.
If a domestic animal is found and you feel comfortable approaching, please check for identification such as tags. Safely confine the animal in a quiet place if possible. If there are no identifiers contact your local police or sheriff department for instructions and information about animal control.
If you would prefer to hold onto the animal yourself until the owner can be found please alert neighbors, local and nearby humane societies/shelters, veterinary offices, as well the police and sheriff departments. Radio stations, online social media and posting fliers may help find the animal's people as well. If you are able to transport the animal, many veterinarian services and shelters are able to check for microchips.
If you find an injured wild or domestic animal along the road in Richland County please call the Richland County Sheriff Department 647-2106 as the Humane Officer or another officer will be dispatched to assist. Conservation Officer Mike Nice may be contacted by calling 647-4217 and is able to assist with wildlife situations and questions as well.
Baby mammals such as kittens, bunnies, and fawns are common in our area. As the babies grow, mothers will leave their young for longer stretches of time to search for food. Within several weeks of age many young have grown enough to start following their mother to learn important life lessons. Baby birds, or fledglings, grow Con and become more ambitious, often tumbling from the nest before their feathers are completely grown. Please do not assume that these young creatures are abandoned. Many times mothers are close by and still caring for them, but hide as humans approach. Leave the animal alone for at least 24 hours if they are not in direct physical danger. The survival rate of these young creatures, domestic or wild, is greatly reduced if they are removed from their mother too early. Only after careful observation has allowed you to determine with certainty that the young has actually been abandoned, should the young be contained or removed and brought to a safe place.
Currently, Richland County provides a pick up services for stray dogs in Richland Center and the county. Cats within the county may be picked up as well. Animals that are not claimed after pick up are put up for adoption at the Richland Area Rescue. If you have lost your pet, to claim your animal, or if a stray pick up is needed within the city limits, call the Richland Center Police Department. You need to call the Sheriff’s Department if you are outside of Richland Center.
The Ocooch Mountain Humane Society offers respite for homeless cats and dogs. We will be happy to take any lost or found animal information as well. Stray animals that are not claimed will be placed for adoption. Please call 604-3483 for more information, email info@ocoochmountainhumanesociety, or visit our homepage www.ocoochmountainhumanesociety.org. Please do not leave emails or text/voice messages for an emergency or urgent situation as OMHS does not offer transport services, nor have full time staff available at this time. Never leave or drop off an animal outside a building.
Please do not remove feral kittens from their nest or mother in order to try and tame them. Your intentions may be well-meaning, but kittens should remain with their mother if possible. Please call your local humane society/shelter for information about how to handle such a situation if a feral cat has kittens on your property.
OMHS is able to care for abandoned kittens and puppies within Richland County and the surrounding area, however, if you are willing and able to care for the abandoned young you have found, OMHS encourages you to do so. OMHS volunteers experienced in kitten or puppy care would be pleased to offer advice and support. Contact a veterinary service for specific care directions.
Article submitted by Laura Payne, member, OMHS Board of Directors