Wildlife Rehabilitation

Wildcare Eastern Sierra (formerly Eastern Sierra Wildlife Care) is dedicated to helping native wildlife through rehabilitation of injured, ill and orphaned birds, mammals, and reptiles, and through education programs that further public knowledge and appreciation of native wildlife.

What to do if you find a wild bird or animal in need

Wildlife rehabilitation is the primary activity of the organization. Injured, ill and orphaned wildlife are provided with appropriate care, food and housing with the goal of returning them to their natural, wild existence. All care is provided free of charge.

Caring in the Eastern Sierra since 1997

Patients are admitted from as far north as Yosemite and Walker and as far south as Death Valley and Olancha, covering a corridor about 200 miles long and 60 miles wide.

Wildcare Eastern Sierra is located in Inyo County and operates under permits from California Department of Fish and Wildlife and the United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Animals needing help are brought to ESWC by community members and visitors to the area, as well as by public agencies such as California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Animal Control, US Forest Service, and Bureau of Land Management. Public referrals come from veterinary hospitals, pet and feed stores, bird clubs, Eastern Sierra Audubon, California Native Plant Society, Sierra Club, Chamber of Commerce, and Mammoth Visitor’s Center. Our volunteers carry out rescue efforts when the finder is unable to rescue the injured animal. Our Rescue and Return Team also returns young birds to nests and.or parents when conditions permit. In cases requiring further veterinary services or special housing, patients are transferred to another rehabilitation facility.

Staff and volunteers work round-the-clock

The rehabilitation process includes examination and assessment of each animal’s condition; appropriate medical care is provided, if needed, as well as food and housing.

Care and feeding of baby animals may require round-the-clock feedings, and is labor-intensive work. Injured, ill and orphaned wildlife are provided with appropriate care, food and housing with the goal of returning them to their natural, wild existence.When the patient reaches a suitable stage of health (and age, in the case of babies), it is placed in appropriate cages or aviaries for conditioning. Ultimately, the animal is released into an appropriate habitat and, in the case of flock or colonial specie, with others of its kind. [Regulations governing wildlife rehabilitation are set forth in CDFG and USFWS codes.]

Well over 7,000 wild birds, mammals and reptiles have been given a second chance at our door since our beginnings in 1997.

What do I do if I find a wild animal?

If you are in the Eastern Sierra area and see a wild bird or animal that may need help, skip to No.1 below, or call us and we will help you find a rehabilitator in your area.

If you are outside the Eastern Sierra, contact IWRC (International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) at (707) 864-1761 for referral to a rehabilitator in your area or go to our Resources for other options.




In general, if you approach a wild animal and it doesn't fly or run away, it needs help. It may be injured, sick or emaciated or too young to fly or walk.

Help Is Needed:

If the animal has an obvious injury, is very young (naked, pinfeathers) or in an unsafe place such as the roadside, in a parking lot, trapped in a building, etc.

A young injured fox on the side of the road.

A young injured fox on the side of the road.

Help May Not Be Needed:

Fawns and young jackrabbits are left alone by their parents and may be fine. It is natural to see fledgling birds on the ground with limited flight. Call for advice before rescuing.

A fledgling red-tailed hawk.

A fledgling red-tailed hawk.


Your goal is to get the bird or animal into a container and keep it safe and warm while you call Wildcare Eastern Sierra for assistance.  If this is a large mammal such as a deer, bear or coyote, call the Department of Fish and Wildlife at (760) 872-1171 first. If you can't reach them, please call us before taking further action.

Secure the animal; handle gently.

Be safe. Watch out for beaks and talons! Always wear gloves when handling any mammals. Get advice before handling adult mammals. [If you feel unable to handle the bird or animal, place a box or trash can over the animal; monitor it while you call our Helpline: (760) 872-1487.

Drop a t-shirt, towel or jacket over the animal; bundle it gently.

Place in a padded box or other container just a little larger than the animal. This helps the animal save energy, retain body heat, and prevents further injury. (For babies, make a snug nest from tissue and a small plastic bowl.) Cover or close container and make a few air holes.

Keep the animal's environment warm, dark and quiet.

The animal is in shock, so warmth is vital. Put container half on heating pad (on low) if you have one, or provide a small bottle of hot water (leak proof!) wrapped in a towel. Put in a warm, quiet place away from people, pets, and noise. Give no food or water until you get advice!


Helpline: (760) 872-1487


All wild animals are protected under state and/or federal law. It is unlawful for any person who does not have the proper training and permits to possess or attempt to rehabilitate wildlife, but the law saws that a member of the public may briefly possess an animal while attempting to get help from a licensed rehabilitator or a veterinarian. If there is a delay of more than 24 hours, you must notify the local Department of Fish and Wildlife office. 

Please see our RESOURCES page for more help.