Wildlife Emergencies

Capture and Transport

Accidental kidnappings are common and must be avoided.  Be sure that an animal is in need of rescue before taking the following steps.  If you are not sure, contact a licensed rehabilitator for advice.  If it is determined that the animal is ill, injured, or orphaned, and in need of rescue, use the steps below as a general guideline for safe rescue and transport.

Prepare a suitable container for safe transport before attempting to capture the animal.

  • The container should be a pet carrier with latched doors, cardboard box with secure lid, or other similar closed container.  There should be a blanket or towel in the bottom of the container. 
  • Never transport an uncontained wild animal in your vehicle.  Do not transport the animal in-hand as it would be stressful to the patient, risk escape, and be a safety concern for you and others on the road.
  • WildCare suggests keeping a rescue kit in your car which includes a suitable container, pair of leather gloves, and a thick blanket or towel, and contact information to your local licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  With these items, you will be able to safely and efficiently respond to most wildlife emergencies.  Other helpful items to include are a flashlight, wire cutters, hand warmers, and capture net. 


  • Never touch a rabies vector species with bare hands. Here in Oklahoma, rabies vector species of concern are bats and skunks. Rescuing these species can still be safe as long as appropriate precautions are taken. If you reside elsewhere, familiarize yourself with rabies vector species in that area. A good rule of thumb is not to touch any wildlife with bare hands for your own safety and that of the animal.
  • Safety first!  If the animal may be too dangerous to capture by hand, contact a licensed wildlife rehabilitator for alternative methods and professional advice.  If not, follow the following steps.  Always use appropriate safety equipment during capture.
  • Slowly approach the animal, getting just close enough to cover them with thick blanket or towel.  Covering the animal will create a visual barrier resulting in reduction of the animal’s stress during capture.  It will also provide you with additional protection. 
  • Wearing thick leather gloves, carefully move the animal into your prepared container.
  • Keep the contained animal in a warm, dark, and quiet place away from pets and loud noises until such time as you can transport the animal to a licensed rehabilitator.  Unless otherwise specifically instructed by a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, do NOT provide food or water.  Do NOT attempt to splint broken bones, provide medication, or apply topical wound treatment.  These steps are best left to trained professionals with access to appropriate supplies.


  • Always transport wildlife in need to a licensed rehabilitator as soon as possible.  Just like with our own medical emergencies, immediate treatment dramatically increases the likelihood of a full recovery.
  • Continue to keep the contained animal warm, dark, and quiet during transport.  Do not bring pets with you for transport.
  • Drive safely with your precious cargo!