Thom Smith | Naturewatch: Helping young or injured wildlife the right way

My mail boxes produced wonderful results last Monday. First, rather than all being bills, our USPS box also had the latest copy of Massachusetts Wildlife magazine's Special Issue featuring SWAP, and my email, the latest MassWildlife Monthly for May 2017 with timely articles with one I want to mention, what to do if you find baby or injured wildlife. (Delivered free of charge to you email. Write: to sign up.)

Even before opening either piece of mail, I promised myself to mention driving east along Route 20 (West Housatonic Street) in Pittsfield, when I noticed something on the road in my lane, applied breaks, as a small, bright red car in the opposite lane come to a quick stop with flashers blinking.

In the wink of an eye the driver, a young lady, got out, grabbed what was a medium-size Eastern painted turtle and took it to the side of the road in the direction it was heading.

Luckily, there was no traffic at the time, as we are always warned not to take chances. She made the correct move, determining that there was no danger in aiding the reptile on its way.

Now back to the e-mail and magazine:

"If you find a sick or injured animal, it is important to locate a licensed rehabilitator. Licensed rehabilitators will provide care with the ultimate goal of release back into the wild." Leave any mammal acting strange alone do not get near it; contact local police of wildlife, or animal control.

This web address provides a list of Massachusetts rehabilitators (I will also provide a southern Vermmont list in a future column),

Baby birds and mammals: "If you find a bird and have already handled it, place the bird back in the nest or in a tree or shrub close by. Birds lack a sense of smell, and will not reject a youngster that is placed back in the nest. If you care, leave them there! If you find a young animal or bird that appears to be abandoned, do not pick it up! Many species of adult animals, such as rabbits and owls, limit the number of daily visits to their young. This prevents predators from discovering the location of newborns or hatchlings. Leave the area immediately."


Input from readers will help me pull together a column suggested by a Bennington Banner reader about house and feral cats, with a focus on house cats that are allowed access to the outdoors.

I know the statistics, but wonder how often (your) pets bring home a gift when out roaming the neighborhood. Our cat, long departed, would bring us her "catch of the day," that was always a small mouse-like mammal with the occasional chipmunk; never a bird.

I believe that she was psychic, and understood the consequences of such a gift.


The United States Congress appointed this day, this year May 19, to increase awareness of imperiled species.

"Over 425 endangered, threatened or special concern animals and plants live in Massachusetts. Species from the majestic bald eagle to the unusual mountain cranberry need protection. Even though many, like the peregrine falcon, have come a long way, our native species still need help."

What can you do?


I want to briefly explain "SWAP" mentioned in the second sentence of this column. It stands for (Massachusetts) State Wildlife Action Plan, a plan the greatly enhances our collective ability to conserve the 570 species of greatest conservation need, condensed as the acronym SGCN.

Arguing why so many animals and plants have become endangered in Massachusetts alone is like arguing global warming. More soon.

Thom Smith welcomes your questions and comments. Email him at or write him care of The Berkshire Eagle, 75 S. Church St., Pittsfield, MA 01201.


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