How to Help Injured & Orphaned Wildlife
Only DNR- licensed wildlife rehabilitators are able to care for injured and orphaned wildlife. In the Grand Rapids area, Wildlife Rehab Center Ltd is a good place to start. Before you call please make sure that the animal is truly orphaned or injured. Many young birds leave the nest before they can fully fly and with observation over time you will notice the parents are around. These young birds should be left alone. Other animals such as rabbits and deer will leave their young in secluded places for long periods of time and only returning to feed them. In general, watch the animal at a safe distance over a period of time first before you determined it is truly orphaned or injured. While you are doing this make sure all pets and young children are kept indoors away from the animal.
If you determine your animal needs help, gently capture it and place it in a shoe box lined with a soft towel/paper towel. The container needs to be kept in a quiet, warm place until you can transport it to a licensed rehabilitator. Do not feed or give water to the animal unless the rehabilitator tells you too. Please know that most rehabilitator are volunteers and have full time jobs during the day. It is important that you leave a message when you call so that they can return you call promptly.
There is one great way to protect wildflowers and ensure that they flourish - let them be! We don’t often realize it, but digging up wildflowers, picking them, or collecting their seed will adversely affect the flower's survival, as well as the wildlife that it sustains.
Many of us assume that abundant wildflowers are common and reproduce easily. On the contrary, in many instances large displays of wildflowers appear only in ideal conditions. Some years, they will be few in numbers or not bloom at all. They depend on the abundant years to reproduce enough seed for the future. If you remove the flowers in abundant years, it will be more difficult for them to come back in sparse ones. In addition, rarer flowers may be hidden among the prolific ones. They may not come back at all if they do not have a chance to produce seeds.
It's also important to understand that wildflowers support entire ecosystems for smaller creatures. Butterflies and other insects, small birds, and animals depend on wildflower seeds and nectar for their food supply. In addition, some pollinators have very small home ranges, or depend on just one species of plant, and die once their habitat has been destroyed.
One last trait of wildflowers to consider: most wildflowers do not tolerate being cut or transplanted, so they won't endure in your bouquet or garden at home.
Three great reasons to leave wildflowers where you find them:
- You allow the flowers to reproduce and sustain their long-term survival in that location.
- You will protect pollinators and other animals that depend on the species for food and cover.
- It allows everyone to enjoy our natural heritage.