Wildlife Encounters - 9th - 12th grade
Lesson 4: Wildlife Rehabilitation
  • Key Words

What You Can Do to Help!

You don't have to be a wildlife veterinarian to help wild animals. Here are some other ways you can take care of wildlife!

Protect your pets' health, and protect wildlife health too!

dog checkup

Pets like dogs and cats can hurt wild species when they're left outdoors. Cats in particular are one of the leading causes of wild bird deaths, and just keeping your cats indoors does a lot to help the birds in your neighborhood!

Keeping your pets current on their vaccinations is also important. There are some diseases that can be passed between pets and wild animals if pets are not properly vaccinated.

Keep wildlife wild!

boy feeding animalWild animals do not make good pets! Being kept in a cage is very stressful for wild animals. Attempting to keep a wild animal as a pet is illegal. Inappropriate captive care is almost always worse for the animal and can be a health risk for you.

If you want a more unique pet, visit your local animal shelter and adopt an exotic pet like a hamster or bearded dragon!

Responsibly care for wildlife!

bird feeder

Keep a bird-feeder or two in your yard. Even the simplest bird feeder is a great way to attract wild birds nearby while also helping to sustain local populations. You'll probably notice a lot of common species like house finches, mourning doves, and cardinals, but if you keep a close watch, you'll also see rarer species like woodpeckers, wrens, and warblers.

Help keep your backyard birds healthy by washing the feeders out with hot soapy water once a week to stop the spread of disease.

Pick-up trash at your local park. Wildlife can be injured by garbage left in natural habitats.

trash hurts animals Practice backyard conservation by making wildlife habitats in your own yard. Preserving native plants and trees on your property is a big help to wild species looking for shelter and food. Try not to use weed killers and pesticides on your lawns, as they are harmful to many unintended species. Butterflies, for example, are harmless to plants, but are extremely susceptible to common pesticides.

Visit the Natural Resources Conservation Service website for tips and ideas!



Stay safe around wildlife! Wild animals are afraid of people, and scared animals will try to defend themselves. Even if a wild animal seems calm, you should leave it alone unless it needs rescuing– provoking wild animals can have dangerous outcomes for the animal and for you. All animals have a way to defend themselves even if they seem harmless. Observe wildlife from a safe distance.

If a wild animal is hurt, find an adult that can help catch the animal and then bring it to your local wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian. For a list of Illinois wildlife rehabilitators, visit the Department of Natural Resources website

bird watching
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