If you encounter an animal that has clearly been injured, you should contact a NY State licensed wildlife rehabilitator. The Department of Environmental Conservation publishes a list of rehabilitators online, including each person’s specialties and location. An expert can give you advice about any next steps and potentially take in the animal.
DEC also provides information on how to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. I’ve done it, and while you do have to study a bit for the test, it’s not hard. My name is not on the published list because that is optional for each individual, and since I am just starting this journey, I don’t feel qualified to take calls yet. I currently work with another rehabilitator on helping turtles. If you are unable to find anyone on the list who can assist you, you may contact me directly.
If you find a baby animal that appears lost or abandoned, please do not intervene. For deer and rabbits, it is entirely normal that the mother leaves the babies alone for most of the day. Baby birds can often appear to be abandoned as well, but in many cases, intervention will make things worse. If the bird has few feathers, the nest is likely nearby and you can put it back. Fledgling birds are more well developed and may not be flying yet, but are fine being out of the nest. For more detail, see the Audubon Society’s guidance. If in doubt, contact a rehabilitator.
Animals in the Street
Most animals don’t linger in the street, but may need to cross to get where they are going. For some reason, people seem more inclined to intervene if they encounter a turtle crossing the road. It is great to help a turtle cross the road, preventing it from injury or death from other vehicles. However, please make sure to bring the turtle where he or she was heading–do not make assumptions about where the turtle should be, and certainly do not relocate it to a body of water or park that you think would be a good home for it. If it is a snapping turtle, be very, very careful. Hold a snapping turtle on the back half of the shell–their necks are so long they can stretch those snapping jaws back to about the midpoint of their shell.
If you come across frogs and salamanders crossing the road on a rainy, early spring night, please let me know! There is an amphibian crossing guard project–read more about it on the Amphibians page.