It’s human nature to want to help someone in need, especially if it’s a lost or hurt animal.
But according to the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association (GWRA) sometimes the best thing you can do is leave it alone. The group just started a toll free hotline two months ago, and Executive Director, Chet Powell, said they’ve already been swamped with calls. The group averages about 25 calls per day, but Powell said they’ve had as many as 50 calls on some days.
“We’re able to do most of our work over the phone, and tell them [callers] to leave it alone,” he said. “We don’t even have to touch the animal.”
So far, Powell said GWRA has helped close to a thousand wild animals in 2014 through out the state of Georgia, including two baby bobcats found in Troup County last week.
“We definitely want people to call before they pick it up,” he explained. “There’s a four out of five chance it [ the animal] needs to be left alone.”
“A person is walking on a trail or even in their neighborhood and sees a fawn, a baby deer, all alone and immediately assumes that it’s an orphan and picks it up. That’s not a rescue,” said Powell, “That’s a kidnapping. Deer leave their young alone for long periods during the day. It’s just as normal and safe for them as a human baby is in a crib.”
According to Powell, the number of calls coming into the GWRA hotline from LaGrange has really picked up over the past few months. But the organization only has a few volunteers in Troup county. Powell said one of the group’s goals is to have 10 - 20 trained volunteers in every county in the state of Georgia.
“If you like animals and you want to help, it’s an easy way to do it,” Powell explained. “You don’t have to commit to a schedule. And once you know you’re the reason that animal is still alive it can be very rewarding.”
People interested in helping rescue wildlife will have to take a course which will cover state and federal rules and laws, plus how to safely secure and care for injured and orphaned animals as they are being transported to the proper wildlife rehabilitation facility. After completing the course, volunteers will be added to an on-call list to act as “first-responders” to wildlife emergency calls.
“Our goal is for no call to go unanswered,” said Powell. “Most of our volunteers, when trained, can handle any call.”
Those wishing to obtain their own wildlife rehabilitator license will have the opportunity to get advanced training. The GWRA hopes to add rehabbers in some parts of the state where there are none currently.
Powell emphasized that taking this course alone will not make one a certified licensed. People will still have to take and pass the state test to be licensed.
The first session, “Introduction to Wildlife Rescue” is mandatory for all GWRA volunteers. The course will start on Thursday, July 17 at 7:30 PM and can be done online. The fee for the class is $20 for GWRA members and $40 for non-members. There is additional information on the Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association’s Facebook page including videos, photos and information about the instructors. For more information or to register for the class, also visit www.georgiawildliferescue.org