Hundreds of thousands of wild birds and animals are killed and injured on Britain’s roads every year. The really sad thing is that so many are left to die a slow death as they are repeatedly run over when many could be saved with proper help.
Our articles often talk about whether or not you should intervene - in the case of an animal hit by a car, you should always contact a rescue to at least get the victim checked over.
You can search for a rescue by putting your location into the search facility on our map page.
If a large animal is in the road, you may wish to also call the police, as they will sometimes attend in this scenario to ease disruption and the safety risk to traffic.
Animals such as foxes, badgers, swans and deer are potentially dangerous when scared or injured and require expert handling. Please do not attempt to capture or contain them. If the animal leaves the scene, try to see where it goes so you can direct the rescue to them when they arrive. If it is in the road, you may wish to also call the police, as they will sometimes attend in this scenario to ease disruption and the safety risk to traffic.
The most important thing you can do here (apart from calling a rescuer urgently), is minimise the casualty’s stress. If the casualty is not moving and it is safe to do so you can approach carefully and put a coat or blanket over its head. This will help to stop the casualty becoming too stressed. Some animals, especially deer, in these situations will freeze and lay still, making no attempt to get away. This does not mean they are tame - please keep your distance and never try to 'comfort' them; you will only be making them more stressed.
If the victim is a small animal (and it is safe for you to do so) pick it up carefully using gloves or a towel, bearing in mind that even smaller animals, especially squirrels, birds of prey and gulls, can cause you a minor injury when threatened.
A large, sturdy cardboard box may be sufficient for smaller casualties but a carry box designed for cats might be better if the creature is still lively and determined. If using a cardboard box, ensure the lid is secured to prevent escape and make sure to provide air holes. Place the box somewhere warm and quiet and keep children and pets away.
It is essential that you get the casualty expert help urgently. In the meantime, it is not generally necessary or advisable to provide food and water. Feeding a shocked, ill, or weakened animal can cause lethal complications. Never attempt to force feed water to a bird as it is very easy to drown them and never offer cow’s milk or alcohol to any wildlife.
It is likely that the animal will be shocked or weakened so supplementary heat can be very helpful here. You can put a hot water bottle wrapped in a towel at one end of the box, either inside, underneath or next to the box, ensuring the animal can get away from the heat if it wants to. If they begin to pant, remove the heat source immediately.
NB: this advice is designed to cover the first couple of hours or overnight. If you are not able to get the animal to a wildlife rescue promptly, please at least speak to someone by phone for further advice about care beyond this period. If you want to care for the casualty yourself rather than taking it to a rescue, please read the information here.