Wildlife Rehabilitation in Virginia

When the squirrel's nest in an oak tree next to my house fell down after a storm, the ants found the baby "tree rat" in the driveway first. After we brushed them off the hairless creature with its eyes still closed, we were faced with the obvious question - Uh, what do we do now?
[Hint: do not feed cow's milk to any wild animal.]

It's not legal to possess wildlife in Virginia without a permit; you can't steal babies from nests and make pets from squirrels, birds, etc. Even if a baby squirrel or bird or rabbit appears at your doorstep, you have to turn it over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.

Wildlife are not owned by landowners. Animals - unlike plants, move across state boundaries as well as the property lines of individual landowners. The oak tree was mine - I could cut it down for firewood if I wanted - but the animals on my property are a state-managed resource and not private property. There are some Federal mandates as well, for migratory and endangered species in particular.

So the universe delivered us a baby squirrel, but we could not raise it as a pet. I put a sock on my left hand and held the baby, until we found the Wildlife Rescue League via the Web. The rehabilitator invited us to call for progress reports on "our" squirrel, but she sees oodles of them at the end of each summer...

The description of Nature as "red in tooth and claw" highlights that far more babies are born in the springtime and summer than survive through the fall and winter. If it was otherwise, we'd be covered with critters after a few years. There's a balance in Nature, where some animals survive and others die. Humans, however, are inclined to rescue individual animals even if they understand "survival of the fittest" intellectually. At least, I know we did in my house...

Links


Habitats and Species
Virginia Places