Photos: Southwest Wildlife caring for orphaned animals

Orphaned raccoons

Credit: Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center

Orphaned raccoons at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center


by Jennifer Thomas

Posted on July 20, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 21 at 5:44 PM

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz.  -- Baby coyotes, bobcats, javelina, skunks and raccoons, many of them orphaned, are being cared for at Southwest Wildlife Conservation Center (SWCC) in Scottsdale.

During the summer, the wildlife rehab department at SWCC sees its largest numbers.

Staffers said as reliable water sources dry up in the summer months, animals are forced to travel long distances to find water, which subjects them to conflicts with other animals and humans and increases their risk of being hit by cars.

SWCC personnel said wildfire also causes animals to move and leaves them with no home to return to.

The staff works around the clock making formula, giving medications, feeding little ones every two hours, and caring for the sick and injured.

Animals recently rescued by SWCC include:

- A coyote puppy that was caught in a leg hold trap and another pup that is recovering from surgery.

- A bobcat that had mistakenly been turned into the Arizona Humane Society by someone who believed it was a regular kitten.

- Two other bobcat kittens orphaned when the homeowners had their mother trapped and relocated, not knowing she had kittens.

- Two javelina orphans found by a motorist alongside a busy road, huddled next to their dead mother who had been hit by a car.

- A mother skunk with babies.

According to SWCC staff, animal mothers choose their nesting sites carefully, knowing they will need to leave their young alone for long periods of time to hunt for food. If you find a baby animal, leave the location and call SWCC at 480-471-9109. SWCC staff will help you assess the situation but if the babies appear to be healthy, they should be left alone.

If it is determined that a mother has become unable to reach her babies, human intervention is required. Do not try to raise an orphaned wild animal as a pet -- it is illegal to possess native wildlife as pets in Arizona. SWCC provides specialized care to orphans and will raise them as wild animals, so they can be returned to the wild once they are mature enough to survive on their own.

Southwest Wildlife rescues, rehabilitates and releases injured, displaced and orphaned wildlife. About 70 percent of the animals the center takes in are returned to the wild, according to officials.

SWCC operates a sanctuary and nature center in northeast Scottsdale that provides a home for animals that cannot be released because of injuries or because they have become imprinted on or habituated to humans and would be unable to fend for themselves in the wild.