by TORI MORRISON | photos by Spark Photography and Project Wildlife Care Center Staff

Project Wildlife, a nonprofit organization, serves as the primary resource for animal rehabilitation and conservation education in San Diego County. The organization cares for sick, injured, and abandoned wildlife throughout the County and then ensures that healthy animals are released back to the wild. Educating the public about wildlife interactions is another part of their mission, as they can have a major positive impact on the lives of wild animals.

Sick, Injured or Orphaned
The first thing to remember is that wildlife generally view humans as a threat. So even if you are trying to help, too much handling or commotion can lead to undue stress on an animal. Watch to be sure the animal really is sick, injured, or orphaned and then act. When assisting the animal, stay calm. Bring the animal to a licensed rehabilitation center. If you are handling the animal yourself, wear gloves or use a towel and place the animal in a container with air holes.

Resident Wildlife
Some wild animals live close to residential areas and may enter yards in search of food or water. Pets should never be left in unattended areas frequented by coyotes. Also, ensuring trash can lids are tight, not leaving pet food outside and sealing access to garages or crawl spaces will help avoid unwanted wild animal visitors.

If these efforts fail to keep wildlife out of your home or backyard, there are also some simple and safe deterrents you can try. These include using chili powder on plants, and installing motion-sensitive lights. Humane wildlife extraction is also an option. Humane exclusion encourages wild animals to leave and not to return without the use of pesticides.

Feeding Animals
Avoid feeding wild animals as that teaches them to associate humans with a food source. This act causes wildlife to become too tame and lose their self-protecting fear of people.

If you find an injured or abandoned animal, do not attempt to keep the animal yourself. Its best chance for survival is to get it to a licensed rehab facility like Project Wildlife as soon as possible.

For more information go to www.projectwildlife.org.