Warning:  Handling an injured raptor can be very dangerous. Only follow this procedure if you are unable to contact RMRP or your local District Wildlife Manager with the Colorado Division of Parks and Wildlife. If you are in Wyoming*, please contact Wyoming Game and Fish. If you are in Nebraska, please refer to the Nebraska Humane Society for information.

Contact Our Raptor Emergency Team 24/7 at: 970-222-0322

  • Prior to capture: Prepare a box with ventilation holes in the top and place a towel, paper towels or newspaper on the bottom. The box should be large enough for the bird to stand but small enough to keep it from flapping or flying around.
  • Collect the following materials: a towel, blanket, sheet or other lightweight material large enough to cover the raptor, and heavy duty gloves (such as leather welders gloves).

FOLLOW THE FIRST RULE OF RAPTOR HANDLING—KEEP YOURSELF SAFE! The raptor you are attempting to rescue will not understand that you are trying to help it. When you approach, it will try to protect itself and may attack you.

  • APPROACH WITH EXTREME CAUTION!  Most injured raptors will use their primary weapon, their strong feet and talons, to protect themselves but they may also bite.
  • Approach the bird from the rear if possible. Carefully place a sheet or blanket over the entire bird. The raptor may try to grab the blanket, sheet, or YOU with its feet. AVOID THE FEET by getting a firm grip from behind holding the wings to the bird’s body.  Keep the bird’s talons away from you and others.
  • Pick the bird up.  Hold the covered bird away from your body, and place it in the prepared box.
  • Gently remove the covering before closing the box.  If the bird is firmly attached to the blanket or sheet, try to expose the bird's head.
  • Place the box in a quiet room away from extreme temperatures and contact the RMRP or another licensed rehabilitator ASAP.

IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE INJURED RAPTOR:

DO NOT HANDLE OR LOOK AT THE BIRD ANY MORE THAN NECESSARY.  IT IS HIGHLY STRESSFUL AND CAN DO THE RAPTOR FURTHER HARM.

  • Wildlife of any type can die from a condition called "Capture Myopathy". 
    • Even if the raptor seems "tame" or "quiet", do not attempt to interact with it more than necessary for its rescue.
      • A "tame" acting raptor is most likely in serious pain and distress. In adult raptors, interaction causes serious stress that can lead to death.
  • In young raptors, interaction can contribute to imprinting, which leaves them unsuitable for life in the wild.
  • DO NOT attempt to feed the raptor ANYTHING or try to force the raptor to drink by dribbling water into its mouth. You may provide a small container of water to enable the bird to drink on its own.

Next: How to safely transfer an injured raptor to a rehabilitator.

*Wyoming Residents: Please note that in Wyoming state law prevents anyone without a rehabilitation license from having wildlife in their custody for any reason, even if transporting to a rehabilitator. Please contact Wyoming Game and Fish if you have a wildlife emergency.

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