The best way to protect yourself is to never touch the animal in the first place. When giving directions for wildlife capture, my preferred instruction is the “Box-Over Method.” With this method, you can capture most animals safely without touching the animal, and the animal never touches you.
To capture an animal with this method, you need an appropriately sized container such as a cardboard box that is large enough to fit the animal in, snugly. The box needs to be
strong enough to keep the animal from escaping, breaking out or (for mammals such as Woodchucks) chewing through. For large animals that may be too strong for a cardboard box, a metal trash can works nicely.
This capture container will also be your transport device and will need ventilation. Most cardboard boxes breathe without additional ventilation, but if you are planning on using a container that will be airtight, several small holes placed near the top of the container will allow for air exchange.
When capturing the animal, this container will be slipped over the animal, upside-down, trapping the animal in the container against the ground.
You also need a stiff, thin piece of cardboard, metal, plastic or wood that is larger than the opening of the container. You can use the lid of the box if there is one. Once the container is over the animal, this stiff sheet or lid is used to slide under the container, between the animal and the ground.
You will also need tape to secure the two pieces together. Duct tape or a strong packing tape both work well for this.
Once you have everything you need, approach the animal slowly. If the animal is mobile, you may need several people to cut off its escape routes. Make sure the direction away from you does not have hazards such as traffic, water or thick briars where the animal may flee and experience further injury.
When you are close enough, quickly place the container over the animal trapping it against the ground with the animal inside. Hold the container down firmly for a moment until the animal stops struggling.
Slowly work the thin, stiff board under the edge of the container and slide it between the animal and the ground. You may have to use a gentle sawing motion to get the board completely under, or wiggle the container to push the animal on top of the board. Work slowly until the board is past all the edges of the container.
Once done, you have successfully contained the animal without touching it. You can now secure the lid or stiff sheet to the container with heavy tape. Very carefully roll the container until it is upright and secure the “packaging” some more.
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Your POCKET REFERENCE GUIDE to injured or orphaned wild animals!
When rescuing injured wildlife, the choices you make will impact that animal’s life and possibly your own. Knowing about the risks to the animal as well as to you, your family and your pets, along with the right advice from the beginning can mean the difference between a heartwarming, educational experience and disaster.
This informative guide teaches would-be rescuers how to identify an animal in need, capture that animal, and safely transport it to a wildlife rehabilitator.
• How to determine the status of an injured creature using easy-to-follow flow charts
• Instructions on safe-capture methods, emergency care, transportation, and finding a professional wildlife rehabilitator