Spring Baby Boom: Let Wildlife Stay Wild

Springtime is here, and with the warming temperatures, we see a boom in baby wildlife. Our Animal Protection Police Officers receive many calls this time of year about young animals from residents who are trying to treat or raise wildlife that appear to be orphaned or abandoned.

While these actions are well-intended, it is important to realize that they may be unnecessary and can be detrimental to wildlife. Baby animals left alone are not necessarily orphaned or abandoned; many species of wildlife will hide their young for safety, leaving them alone for extended periods of time.

Common wildlife that are frequently found and “rescued” in Fairfax County include squirrels, red foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, opossums, and songbirds. If you come across a baby animal and feel the need to intervene, we offer guidelines below to determine if the animal needs help. If an animal is displaying these signs, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or our Animal Protection Police for further assistance and instruction. Please do not handle any baby wild animal.

Signs that an animal needs help include:

  • Shows signs of flies, worms or maggots, which look like grains of rice
  • Was caught by a cat or dog
  • Is bleeding or shows signs of trauma, such as swelling
  • If the parents are known to be dead or separated and cannot be united
  • Is very cold, thin or weak
  • Is on the ground unable to move
  • Is not fully furred or feathered

Before intervening, please learn more about which wildlife species and situations you are most likely to encounter and ways to determine whether an animal needs help at:

If you have questions about whether an animal needs help or to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, you may contact the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline toll-free at 1-855-571-9003. This helpline is available Monday through Friday from 8 am to 4:30 pm. Our Animal Protection Police can be reached through the Police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131.

Photos: MaxPixel, Instructables