Urban growth and development have created warm comfortable housing (under decks and against spas) and an abundance of food (pet food and garbage cans). Many wild animals have adapted quite well to this urban environment and some have even managed to flourish.
Thank you for taking the time to help a wild animal in need!
The staff and volunteers at the Whatcom Humane Society wildlife rehabilitation center will do all we can to provide specialized care, treatment and services to the animals received at our facility. Our permitted, licensed and trained wildlife rehabilitation center staff will determine one of the following outcomes for animals received:
- Rehabilitation and release the animal back into the wild
- Humanely euthanize the animal if it suffers from medical or physical injuries, illnesses or other conditions that would prevent it from surviving in the wild and/or causes the animal unnecessary pain
- Transfer the animal to another permitted and licensed wildlife rehabilitation center/facility for specialized and continued care (in some rare cases with the approval of state and federal fish & wildlife departments, the animal may be transferred to a licensed sanctuary)
To check on the status of animals brought to our wildlife rehabilitation center, please email: email@example.com. Please provide as much information about the animal as possible (date brought to the wildlife center, species, location found). Note: Due to limited resources and staffing levels it may take several days to receive a response.
I found an animal
Always keep yourself safe first.
If you can safely capture the animal, put it in a warm, quiet, undisturbed place.
Avoid handling it as much as possible.
Do not give it food or water.
Contact us if you have found an injured wild animal and need help (360) 966-8845.
If you find a bat on the ground do not touch it! Bats in Washington…
Fawns Mother deer leave their fawns alone for large portions of the day…
Adult opossums are not typically aggressive…
Baby Rabbits If you find healthy bunnies that are 4-5 inches long, able to hop…
Raccoons are very aggressive animals and should not be handled by the public…
Skunks are very aggressive animals and should not be handled by…
Baby Squirrels If the baby appears uninjured and is warm to the touch…
Baby or Fledgling Birds Contrary to popular myth, touching…
Do not go near any marine mammal that is beached…
Not All Wildlife Need Our Help.
Baby birds with feathers spend some time on the ground as they learn to fly and their parents are usually nearby.
Not All Wildlife Need Our Help.
Fawns are left alone for several hours while there mothers go off to feed.
COEXISTING WITH WILDLIFE
Alysha Evans is the manager of the WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.
She is a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, providing important information on how you can protect & help wildlife. Check out her videos on Co-existing with Wildlife.
Interested in Volunteering?
We are now recruiting volunteers for the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center! There are a few steps one needs to take before becoming a wildlife volunteer, like making sure you are able to make the commitment, but if you would like to learn more, click the button below.
The Whatcom Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center is offering Wildlife Care Internship positions between March 1st and October 31st of each year. These are unpaid internships, although housing may be provided.
The start dates of each position are staggered so that full coverage is provided for wildlife care during our busiest time of the year. There will be some overlap between each position. Students may earn college credit through the completion of an internship.
Interns will be involved in all aspects of wildlife rehabilitation from admission to release. This includes: basic rehabilitation skills, cage cleaning, food preparation, animal handling, and daily cleaning and sanitation of the center. Candidates will earn valuable hands-on experience in working with wildlife. Ideal candidates will be mature, honest, enthusiastic to learn, have a good work ethic and a strong desire to work with animals and people. They must be at least 18 years old. Interns could be college students, graduates, veterinary assistants, vet technicians, or someone else who really wants to learn about wildlife care.
No experience is required, but candidates should be able to lift at least 50 pounds. Wildlife Care Internships are very physically demanding. It is important that all applicants are in good physical condition and able to bend, squat, and be on their feet for long periods of time.
All internships, as mentioned above, will occur from March 1 to October 31. This is our very busy ‘Baby Season.’ During this time, we receive an increased number of young orphaned wild animals in addition to our usual number of injured animals. Interns may be working with a variety of patients from small orphans to large adults during their internship.
Length of Internship
The facility hours vary based on the season. During the busy season, the hours may be anywhere from 6:00am to 10:00pm, although the hours are typically from 8:00am to 8:00pm. Shifts are either 8 hours or 10 hours depending on patient needs. Interns may be scheduled any day of the week with 2-3 days off per week. Late night feedings may be required during baby season for select patients. After hours care is restricted to on-site interns only.
We recognize that some injuries and conditions are such that the animal will not be able to be returned to the wild or live in captivity. In those cases, we perform euthanasia as a way to release the animal from pain. Interns will not perform the euthanasia, but may be present when it occurs. This is something interns must be open to accept. Euthanasia is a gift; and is never taken lightly.
Intern Commitment Agreement
All interns are expected to be 100% committed to their internship, both physically and mentally. We expect interns to be here when scheduled and willing to do what is asked to the very best of their ability.
ALL INTERNS: Each intern is allowed 3 days of scheduled leave; these are to be used for previously arranged trips, events, etc. that are cleared with the manager first with as much advance notice as possible. Anything such as illness or family emergency is exempt from this policy, however the manager must be notified as soon as possible so arrangements can be made. If an intern is out sick for more than 3 days, a doctor’s note will be required. If an intern tests positive for COVID, that intern will need to follow current CDC and WHS policies.
LIVE-IN INTERNS: Live-in interns are expected to do just that: live here! They are to spend every night at the center for the duration of their internship unless previously arranged as described above. Live-in interns have an added level of responsibility and are to be available for after hours emergencies, intakes, or animal care duties. They are expected to share these responsibilities equally among themselves – no single individual should be doing all of the after-hours duties.
Wildlife Care Internship
This intern position focuses on assisting wildlife center staff in providing the wildlife patients with the highest quality humane care and attention, including but not limited to animal husbandry, cleaning, and maintenance tasks. This is not a medical internship for those seeking externships or internship hours for technical veterinary programs.
The application deadline for the 2024 season is February 1, 2024. Since housing is on a first come, first served basis, it is recommended to apply early for these opportunities. Generally, decisions are made and applicants are notified of their status by February 15, 2024.
Questions about the internship or application? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will be happy to assist you.
A Note About Zoonotic Disease:
Working with wildlife presents possible added exposure to potential zoonotic diseases. WHS Wildlife Rehabilitation Center takes every precaution available to mitigate these risks through the use of PPE, disinfection and handling protocols, and vaccination.
It is preferred that all live-in interns are fully vaccinated for COVID-19 by the internship start date. Our staff, interns, and volunteers are expected to wear face masks in the facility while working with patients, the public, and in other situations. Interns will be required to learn and follow all special COVID, HPAI, and other emerging disease precautions and wear the appropriate PPE (provided) for the entirety of their internships.
WHS Wildlife Center offers free limited onsite housing on a first-come, first-served basis. Rooms are located on the second floor of the Center. Personnel will be working on the first floor from 6:00am-8pm every day, and live-in interns may hear sounds of this and patients vocalizing from their quarters. Living where you work has its pros and cons – it is very convenient and amplifies the whole experience but being able to leave the work environment can also be important for mental health. Furthermore, bus lines and other public transportation do not reach our property, and there is no walkable access to stores, restaurants, etc. Rideshares such as Uber, Lyft, etc. are not readily accessible, and can be quite expensive. As such, having access to a reliable car during your internship is essential.
Wildlife is in your yard too!
While many of us may not realize it, a property owner is also a habitat manager. Over 35,000 acres of wildlife habitat are converted to housing and other development each year in Washington. If we continue at this rate, many of our native wildlife species will have few places to live and visit. The things we do, or do not do, in the vicinity of our home have an effect on the quality of habitat for dozens of wildlife species.
Make your yard into a wildlife sanctuary
- Backyard Wildlife Sanctuary (Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife)
- Create a Certified Wildlife Habitat (National Wildlife Federation)
- Backyard Conservation (Natural Resources Conservation Service)
- How do I keep wildlife out of my yard? (Bellingham Herald, Animal Tales)
- What should I do if I see an injured deer or fawn? (Bellingham Herald, Animal Tales)
Feeding Native Wildlife
Bloat, diarrhea, emaciation, dehydration, weight loss and hypothermia are sadly just a few of the things that can happen to native wildlife after being fed the wrong diet by humans.
The Whatcom Humane Society wildlife rehabilitation center cares for countless orphaned wildlife of all species that have been fed by well – meaning members of the public. This may seem like the right thing to do, after all these are babies that no longer have a mom and need nutrients right away – or so “the internet says.” In reality, orphan wildlife requires such specialized care, and more often than not, feeding is the last thing that licensed wildlife rehabilitators will do when receiving an animal in need.
If an animal is truly orphaned, it is generally suffering from dehydration, emaciation/starvation and hypothermia. Feeding an orphan who is showing these signs can cause further damage as they are using all of their energy reserves to stay alive, let alone digest food. This goes for adult wildlife as well. They simply cannot process whole food when suffering from conditions such as emaciation. When an animal has gone without food and water for long periods of time and they are fed commercially bought formulas/food, or worse yet, human food, they go through what is called re-feeding syndrome. The body spends so much energy trying to break down nutrients and digest what is given when it should be focusing on staying warm and alert. The worst thing that humans can do for an animal in this state is provide an incorrect diet.
Wildlife rehabilitation exists so that these animals can have a second chance at living in their native wild habitat. Licensed wildlife rehabilitators are trained to be able to diagnose common symptoms that go along with animals becoming orphan or starved. Treatment often includes a stabilization process of heat and fluids before any feedings are done, and sometimes this process takes days. Wildlife rehabilitators are also able to order or make formulas and feeding supplements that are designed for each specific species of animal. For example, feeding an orphaned cottontail rabbit kitten formula is one of the worst things we can do. The formula is not designed for these small mammals and will cause bloat, diarrhea, weight loss and ultimately can lead to the death of the animal. Wildlife benefit from being fed a diet that is formulated for their specific needs and gastro-intestinal functions.
Every year, the WHS wildlife rehabilitation center encounters well-meaning citizens who bring the center orphaned wildlife that they have been feeding for several days. The reason that these animals finally make it to our facility is because they have become lethargic. By the time that we are able to start treatment, they are often too far gone and have sustained severe injury to their organs and are not able to pull through. They are emaciated, dehydrated and lifeless. This is most often avoidable if the animal is brought to the WHS wildlife center for care right away. Sadly, many residents explain to our center staff that they just wanted the experience of caring for a wild animal, they wanted to domesticate the animal and make it a pet, or they love wild animals so much that they just wanted to do something to help.
This past year our center received a juvenile red – tailed hawk that was found by a citizen who fed the bird chicken breast and coca cola for several days. By the time the hawk was brought to the wildlife center, he had suffered severe crop stasis – a very painful condition with a poor outcome. He was so dehydrated and emaciated, that even with heroic efforts on behalf of our wildlife center staff, the beautiful bird died a painful death.
The WHS wildlife rehabilitation center receives many calls from citizens who have found animals and insist on keeping them in their home because “they know what works.” It is important to recognize that in Washington State, it is illegal to keep native wildlife. Orphaned and injured native wildlife must be transferred to a licensed wildlife rehabilitation center.
The same problems associated with feeding orphaned baby wildlife also apply to adult animals. One of the most common issues the WHS wildlife center treats is the case of angel wing – a severe deformation of flight feathers in birds when they are fed bread. Emaciation and bloat are commonly found when deer are fed commercial grains or bread. Hair loss, juvenile cataracts, delayed development when raccoons are fed nothing but bird seed.
One of the biggest issues that occur in Whatcom County in regards to inappropriate human interaction/feeding of wildlife is the feeding of deer. Deer do very well on their own – without any human interaction, especially food. Most of the food that the public can purchase for deer is commercial and not easily digestible for a wild animal. Deer are ruminants and have very special needs and digestion. Foods like grains, breads and bird seed are inadequate for the long term health of deer. When food like this is provided to deer, they will eat it as it is an easy and tasty meal (like donuts to humans) but they will not get the nutrients that they need. Then they become thin, dehydrated, have diarrhea and can bloat.
When deer get so used to easy food sources that they can become habituated and lose their fear of humans. This poses such a threat to humans, domestic animals and deer, especially as rut season approaches. A deer that is not afraid of people is a deer that is not truly “wild”. The WHS wildlife rehabilitation center sees a spike in malnutrition cases of deer in winter months when commercial feeds are at their highest distribution by the public. Deer are equipped to be able to find food sources like lichen and bark during cold weather and are able to digest these types of food. This food is what their bodies expect, not grains and fruits. Deer who consume large quantities of commercial foods in the winter are at risk of literally starving, as they are not able to process the food and become weak.
In the summer, deer are designed to eat all of the browse and new foliage that grows in abundance in the community. If they are nursing fawns, they are eating a rich diet to provide enough milk.
Feeding deer and creating a “bond” with the animal can not only harm the animal from a nutritional standpoint, but also endangers the animals as they lose their fear of people. The majority of deer received by the WHS wildlife rehabilitation center that are the victims of car accidents are deer that are in fact, too used to humans and have lost their ability to sense danger. Many deer that attack dogs or other domestic animals due so because they have become habituated to their surroundings and lost their fear of humans. It is a vicious cycle and one that is truly harmful for this species. So in a nutshell…please do not feed the deer!
To contact the Whatcom Humane Society Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, please call (360) 966-8845.
Household ammonia is a very safe and effective tool for keeping critters away. Soak rags in ammonia and place them around the edges of your yard or garden, under your deck, porch, crawl space or wherever animals have been giving you trouble. Refresh the ammonia every few days until you are sure the animals have moved onto a less fragrant dwelling.
If you have concerns about large carnivores on or around your property, please contact the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife.
Wildlife in Winter
To feed or not to feed?
It is common for people to want to feed wildlife, especially during the winter months. While this may seem helpful, it usually does more harm than good. Before you put food out for the wild animals around your home, please be sure you have all the information. Here are some useful links:
- Feeding Native Wildlife (WHS Wildlife Rehab Center)
- Winter Wildlife Feeding (Department of Fish & Wildlife)
- Help Protect Wild Birds from Deadly Salmonellosis (Department of Fish & Wildlife)
- Feeding Water Fowl May be Harmful (US Fish & Wildlife Service)
- Nuisance Wildlife (Department of Fish & Wildlife)
- Four Reasons Not to Feed Wildlife (Humane Society of the United States)
- Feeding Wildlife (PAWS)
- To Feed or Not to Feed (Peninsula Humane Society)
Tree Trimming & Power Washing
Deterring Pigeons and Other Birds
Not everyone wants to feed the birds, especially when they eat your garden veggies! Here’s some tips on how to safely keep birds away from the places they shouldn’t be.
- Remove all food and water sources.
- Mount a plastic owl in the area where the pigeons are, but move the owl around every other day so it will look more realistic. A stationary owl is no threat to a pigeon!
- Put Nixalite or some other material that is made up of sharp barbs where the pigeons are perching.
- Hang up wind chimes or blast a radio in their direction.
- Put nets or screens over areas that are off limits to birds.
- If cleaning or disturbing areas where there is bird feces, always dampen the area with water first. This will prevent air-born diseases that are associated with dry bird feces.
- If you want the birds away from you house or a certain area, try luring them to other areas with food or housing.
- Never poison birds; some other animal may eat the dead, poisoned bird and secondary poisoning may occur.
- Remove all food and water sources and make bird feeders squirrel-proof.
- Make sure all chimneys, sheds, and attics are closed off from squirrels; these are popular nesting sites.
- Cut branches away from your rood to discourage easy access to attics and chimneys.
- Use ammonia-soaked rags in areas where the squirrels are living.
- Create one-way doors where squirrels are entering/exiting. Put some type of mesh on the door, so that they can see the outside world. Also make the door difficult to open from the outside by putting a tight spring on the door.
- Never poison a squirrel; some other animal may eat the dead, poisoned squirrel and secondary poisoning may occur.
Deterring Skunks and Raccoons
- Remove all food and water sources. Make sure your garbage is secure by putting the cans in a rack or tying them to a support.
- Make sure all chimneys, sheds, decks, and crawl-spaces are raccoon proof. These are popular nesting sites.
- Put metal flashing around trees that are off limits to the raccoons so that they cannot climb them.
- Make fish ponds more than 2 ½ feet deep to discourage the raccoons from wading in the pond to catch your fish. Or put something along the bottom of the pond for the fish to hide in, like a long pipe.
- Blast a radio or shine bright lights in their direction; this will disrupt their sleep and they will hopefully go elsewhere.
- Use moth balls or ammonia-soaked rags in outdoor areas where raccoons are sleeping.
- Create a one-way door if you know where the raccoon is entering/exiting. The door will swing out but will not swing in, locking them out of the space. Make the door difficult to open from the outside by attaching a strong spring to the door. Note that this is not a good solution if there are babies that need to be moved.
Wildlife and Pets
- Pick up pet food after dark.
- Once your pet is inside for the night, lock all pet doors.Property:
- Replace plastic trash cans with metal cans and secure the top. Secure trash cans to a fence.
- If you catch an animal in the midst of a raid, DO NOT attempt to pick up or corner the animal. Use bright lights or loud noises to frighten the visitor(s) away.
- Close the areas around decks, hot tubs, spas, sheds, porches, foundations, and stairways.
If you have any questions about coexisting with your wild neighbors, please call us at 360-966-8845.
Wild animals need your support too!
How your generosity helps
- $50 = 3 days of food for injured swans
- $100 = vaccinations and de-wormer for 10 animals in our small mammal nursery
- $200 = full service veterinary treatment, supplies and medication for an injured bald eagle or owl
- $500 = 1 month of gas for the wildlife rehabilitation center vehicle
- $1000 = 3 months of infant formula for orphaned fawns
Located at: Mission Rd, Bellingham, WA
Phone: (360) 966-8845
Hours of Operation:
9:00 am-5:00 pm
365 days a year