Learn When Wild Animals May Need a Little Human Help

Owl 1Frying Pan Farm Park keeps close tabs on the all the new baby animals that arrive in the barn each spring, but who looks after youngsters in the wild? Animal parents usually do just fine taking care of their young without any human intervention. However, there are times even wildlife could use a little assist.

In Fairfax County, the Animal Protection Police Officers are among the folks to call if you’re concerned about the welfare of any wild animals you may spot in your parks or in your neighborhood. This is baby boom time in nature, and the officers respond to numerous calls each year about wildlife that appear to be orphaned or abandoned. In most cases, the animals are probably just sitting tight until their parents arrive with a meal.

DSC_0184There are some signs that indicate an animal may be in trouble. The police say an animal may need help if it:

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

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In December 2019, Animal Protection Officers were called when local residents discovered a bald eagle on the ground that appeared to be hurt and couldn’t fly.

After getting some TLC from professional wildlife rehabilitators, the eagle took flight weeks later at Burke Lake Park with hundreds of visitors watching as it dramatically spread its wings and returned to its natural habitat.DSC_7012

The Animal Protection Police say some of the wildlife most frequently found and “rescued” in Fairfax County include squirrels, red foxes, raccoons, rabbits, skunks, opossums and songbirds. If you’re worried about the condition of a wild animal, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, veterinarian or the Animal Protection Police for instruction on how or whether to intervene.

The police warn: “Please do not handle any baby wild animal and do not attempt to offer food or water unless instructed to do so by a professional. This can do more harm than good.” They report that the survival rates of rehabilitated animals are often low. A young animal’s best chance for survival is to receive natural care from its parents and remain wild.

If you have questions about whether an animal needs help, reach out to the professionals. If you want to locate a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, contact the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline toll-free at 1-855-571-9003. This helpline is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 pm. Animal Protection Police can be reached through the Police non-emergency line at 703-691-2131. The Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries also provides information at: https://www.dgif.virginia.gov/wildlife/injured/.

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About Fairfax County Park Authority

About Fairfax County Park Authority HISTORY: On December 6, 1950, the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors created the Fairfax County Park Authority. The Park Authority was authorized to make decisions concerning land acquisition, park development and operations in Fairfax County, Virginia. To date, 13 park bond referenda have been approved between 1959 and 2016. Today, the Park Authority has 427 parks on more than 23,000 acres of land. We offer 325 miles of trails, our most popular amenity. FACILITIES: The Park system is the primary public mechanism in Fairfax County for the preservation of environmentally sensitive land and resources, areas of historic significance and the provision of recreational facilities and services including: • Nine indoor RECenters with swimming pools, fitness rooms, gyms and class spaces. Cub Run features an indoor water park and on-site naturalist • Eight golf courses from par-3 to championship level, four driving ranges including the new state-of-the-art heated, covered range at Burke Lake Golf Center • Five nature and visitor centers. Also nine Off-Leash Dog Activity areas • Three lakefront parks including Lake Fairfax, Lake Accotink and Burke Lake, with campgrounds at Burke Lake and Lake Fairfax. The Water Mine Family Swimmin’ Hole at Lake Fairfax, Our Special Harbor Sprayground at Lee as well as an indoor water park at Cub Run RECenter • Clemyjontri Park, a fully accessible playground in Great Falls featuring two acres of family friendly fun and a carousel, as well as Chessie’s Big Backyard and a carousel at the Family Recreation Area at Lee District Park • An ice skating rink at Mount Vernon RECenter and the Skate Park in Wakefield Park adjacent to Audrey Moore RECenter • Kidwell Farm, a working farm of the 1930s-era at Frying Pan Farm Park in Herndon, now with historic carousel • Eight distinctive historic properties available for rent • A working grist mill at Colvin Run in Great Falls and a restored 18th century home at Sully Historic Site in Chantilly • A horticulture center at Green Spring Gardens in Annandale • Natural and cultural resources protected by the Natural Resource Management Plan and Cultural Resource Plans, plus an Invasive Management Area program that targets alien plants and utilizes volunteers in restoring native vegetation throughout our community • Picnic shelters, tennis courts, miniature golf courses, disc golf courses, off-leash dog parks, amphitheaters, a marina, kayaking/canoeing center • Provides 263 athletic fields, including 39 synthetic turf fields, and manages athletic field maintenance services at 417 school athletic fields. PARK AUTHORITY BOARD: A 12-member citizen board, appointed by the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors, sets policies and priorities for the Fairfax County Park Authority. Visit https://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news2/social-hub/ for Fairfax County Government's Comment Policy.

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