Please enjoy the wildlife (from a distance!)
If you’re patient and quiet, a half hour in the woods may bring a number of animals within your sight. The common wildlife of Cook Forest includes white-tail deer, squirrels of many sort, opossums, raccoons, and otters. Cook Forest State Park is an Audubon Important Bird Area, and we have frequent sightings of songbirds, raptors, and even great blue heron. A few black bear, red fox, fishers, and coyotes roam the woods.
None of our animals are likely to pose any threat to people unless provoked, but none should be fed, baited, or treated in manner which would accustom them to human presence.
You can help the wildlife live a happy, healthy life here in Cook Forest – please:
- help keep refuse out of the park, and remove any you come across;
- keep volume levels low, and reduce ambient light at night, as many of our critters are dependent upon their hearing for hunting, or on dark skies;
- don’t approach animals; and DEFINITELY
- don’t put out food to attract them – it’s a sad fact that “a fed bear is a dead bear,” as they become accustomed to people, and emboldened, and consequently are put down as probable threats to people, which in their wild-and-natural state, black bears are not, with very few exceptions. Raccoons, opossums, and a number of other beneficial animals are also ultimately injured by handouts and enticements.
Many animals that seem to have been abandoned may just be awaiting the mother’s return during a move of the litter… perhaps the flying squirrel is just groggy because it’s daylight and he camped in an unfortunate spot – ask us how we know 🙂
If you’d like to help a snapping turtle across the road, usher him in the direction he had been heading, but never pick him up by his tail — or get anywhere near his head. It’s possible to lift the shell above the tail and “wheelbarrow” him forward, but we usually just use a piece of cardboard.
If you think you’ve come across orphaned, injured, sick, or displaced wildlife – please call WIN – Wildlife in Need Emergency Response of PA , at 814-414-4224 – before approaching or moving any animal. Keep the animal in sight. They’ll assess the situation, advise you on what to do, and find a certified wildlife rehabilitator who can take the animal.
If you’ve already contained the animal, place it somewhere dark, warm, safe, and quiet. If you have a quiet interior bathroom to place the animal, in a cardboard box half on a heating pad, that’s ideal. Then contact Animal Help Now (AHNow), the 911 for wildlife rehabilitation resources in the US. It’s a website and smartphone app that helps “finders” locate and contact the nearest, most appropriate help for wildlife emergencies.
Don’t feed any animal before contacting a rehab specialist, and never give milk. Don’t put birds in wire cages, as it damages their wings – securely closed cardboard is better. Baby critters benefit from a heating pad placed under one-half of their box, in case they need help with regulating their temperature.
WIN doesn’t handle large animals, poisonous snakes, or amphibians – instead:
- If you’ve found an injured adult deer, elk, bear, bobcat, contact the PA Game Commission – call the region office in which you find the animal. In our area, call the Northwest office at 814-432-3187.
- For amphibians and venomous snakes, call the PA Fish & Boat Commission – in our area, 814-359-5110 or 814-337-0444.
WIN is a statewide network of trained folks at both the capture and transport levels, and will work to get the animal to the nearest rehabilitation facility equipped to handle the species, as quickly and safely as possible. If you’re transporting the animal yourself to a rehabilitation center that will accept the animal as verified by WIN, you’re protected by Pennsylvania’s Good Samaritan law. Otherwise, keeping or transporting a wild animal is prohibited by various state and federal laws.