We know that wildlife emergencies can be scary, and we all learned as children that the best thing to do in an emergency is to call 911! But unfortunately, calling 911 for an orphaned or injured wild animal is not helpful. It could delay assistance for the animal, tie up resources needed for human emergencies, and possibly even lead to consequences such as fines.
911 dispatchers are not generally trained on veterinary first aid and don’t usually have a list of licensed rehabilitators handy. They may unintentionally give incorrect advice and it may take them extra time while they track down a list of rehabilitators (something you could do yourself in less time). 911 is for emergencies that impact human health and safety, like serious human injuries, violent crime, fires, and car accidents.
There are a few rare exceptions that warrant contacting 911 for a wildlife emergency, such as when an animal is posing an immediate public safety hazard. Examples of this might include a wild animal that is actively attacking a person or an injured bear or adult deer blocking a high-speed highway.
If you’ve found an orphaned or injured wild animal in need of assistance anywhere in North America, please check AHnow.org for help. This is a continent-wide directory that can connect you with licensed rehabilitators local to you, who accept the species you have found.