With high temperatures and the increased risk of fires in summer, wild animals can be particularly vulnerable. As such the Centre for the Recovery of Endangered Species (CREA), which is run by the Junta de Andalucía, has published advice about what to do in the event of finding an injured or sick wild animal.
Malaga province’s CREA is based in the Montes de Málaga. The service operates 24 hours a day, every day of the year and it is not uncommon to read about people working outdoors, or concerned citizens contacting the centre after finding an animal, from owls that have become stuck in fences, to dehydrated chameleons and everything in between. It should be pointed out that CREA does not take in abandoned or feral cats or dogs.
In the event of finding an animal that is sick or injured, CREA advises calling the centre in the province where the animal is found. If the call goes through to voicemail, leave the message along with your name and telephone number or address. An agent will contact you as soon as possible and will tell you how your notification will be dealt with.
The collection time is up to 48 hours for species listed in the legislation as endangered (endangered or vulnerable), and up to 72 hours for other species not listed, but rare or of special interest. Other species that are not on endangered or vulnerable lists will be received at the CREAs, but no special collection service is provided and the finder would have to take the animal themselves.
The CREAs deal with an average of 7,500 cases per year, many of which are endangered species. This means that the network attends to an average of 20 patients per day, with this number multiplying by up to four and five times in the summer months. In June and July the daily admissions can be between 80 or 100 patients; which can mean that assistance and collection teams are busy and an immediate response cannot be given.
CREA provides clear advice as to how to rescue an animal. Firstly it advises picking the animal up wrapped in a blanket, “taking care that it does not hurt you with its claws or beak, or with its mouth if it is a mammal. Remember that the animal is nervous, it is afraid of humans and will try to defend itself” the website warns. “To prevent it from harming you, the best thing to do is to cover its head gently with a blanket, cloth or any piece of clothing. The animal will be immobile and easy to pick up.” The following steps are:
• Place it in a cardboard box with holes in it. Remove the blanket covering and do not put food, water, straw or other materials that could aggravate any wounds.
• Do not apply disinfectants or feed it, as this may cause irreparable damage.
• Keep the animal isolated from noise and people. A dark room will do perfectly well.
• Do not hand it over to anyone other than CREA environmental officers.
• If the animal dies while being kept, its remains should be incinerated. If this is not possible, they can be left in the field near the place where it was found or in a similar place.
The centre points out that not all animals that appear to be helpless should be collected. They do not always really need it. Chameleons, tortoises and turtles, for example, walk slowly and some apparently abandoned hatchlings are actually being cared for by parents even if they are not immediately visible.
To contact CREA in Malaga:
Tel: 670 94 45 98
Address: Casa Forestal Boticario. Parque Natural Montes de Málaga, Carretera Colmenar S/N (A-7000), km. 553. 29013 Malaga