Help is not just on the way, it’s here.

If you’ve had an encounter with a wild animal – a bird stunned by hitting a window, a fox hit by a car, or a family of raccoons unexpectedly found residing in your attic – you know how hard it can be to find help. Too often there are endless calls to friends of friends, to veterinarians who actually don’t take wildlife, to “animal control experts” who sound so dodgy you’re not sure you want them to know where you live.

Animal Help Now is the first nationwide response system for wildlife emergencies. You can access and bookmark it on your computer,  or even better you can download the app for free on your iPhone or Android . AHNow’s database includes wildlife rehabilitators, rescues and hotlines, as well as veterinarians who treat wildlife. No matter where you are in the country you can put in the address of the wildlife emergency, narrow your search to the species and problem, and contact numbers will pop up.

This is a godsend for wildlife professionals who are constantly swamped with calls from Good Samaritans desperately searching for help. Bird rehabbers receive calls for injured turtles; veterinarians are contacted about skunks in basements. In the past, the lack of a central help line added another layer of work and stress to an already overstretched community of people.

Here is a basic how-to video. Here’s what to do if you work at a wildlife center, a veterinarian’s office, or just want to be able to give a distraught caller a referral yourself.



Go to the site and under Resources you’ll find a wealth of information: species-specific instructions on initial contact with injured/orphaned wildlife, how to mitigate threats to wildlife, how to reunite a baby with its parent. There are sections on transport, wildlife career info, and domestic animal issues; there are links to other wildlife organizations, wildlife and law enforcement agencies in several states, and contacts for marine mammal and sea turtle strandings. 

The old method of trapping and relocating “nuisance” animals, now known to be inhumane, has been replaced by the eviction and exclusion method. Since it is rare to find an animal control company that actually implements it, AHNow only lists about 30 operators. However several of them, including 411 Wildlife Solutions in Florida, have agreed to be listed nationwide. They will take your call, give you free advice, and even talk to the local operator in your area, if need be.

Exclusive to licensed wildlife rehabilitators: if you are not listed with AHNow and wish to be, or if you are listed and need to change/update any of your information, email Research Director and Wildlife Rehabilitator Liaison Elena Rizzo.

This is a valuable resource you can pass along to your friends and family, wherever they live. You can post it on your local Internet bulletin board, and give it to the people who receive wildlife rescue calls but normally can’t help… your local town hall, police department, libraries, and hiking area staff.

Animal Help Now, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, was founded in Colorado in 2011. Its Executive Director and co-founder is David Crawford and the majority of its work is performed by a talented and dedicated group of volunteers. See here for volunteer opportunities and here if you can make a donation to this critically important organization, so they can continue to connect those who want to help wildlife with those who are able to do so.


All photographs by wildlife photographer Ingrid Taylar. Check out her site for more remarkable photographs.

Banner photo of distressed but fully flighted Sanderling. Luckily the string was not knotted tightly and the bird ultimately freed herself.

California Towhee attacking its reflection in glass. Here’s what a bird sees just before it strikes a window, without the velocity and certain injury.

Oiled Western Gull after the Cosco Busan oil spill.

Harbor seal in Puget Sound, Seattle.

Raccoon kits where they should be.

Black-crowned Night Heron fallen to a parking lot, unable to be re-nested. Delivered to Wetlands and Wildlife Care Center in Huntington Beach, California, also a registered non-profit.


Written by Suzie
Suzie Gilbert is a wild bird rehabilitator whose shameful secret is that on more than one occasion she has received a female LBJ, or a fledgling whatever, and has been completely unable to ID it. Luckily she has birder friends who will rush to her aid, although she must then suffer their mockery. She is the author of her bird-rehabbing memoir Flyaway (HarperCollins) and the children's book Hawk Hill (Chronicle Books). Her recent suspenseful, bird-filled adventure novel Unflappable (Perch Press) was selected by Audubon Magazine as one of their Three Best Summer Reads of 2020. She lives in New York's beautiful Hudson Valley and is always up for a good hike.