Like other animals such as pets and farm stock, wild animals deserve our respect and are entitled to be free of cruelty. However, helping them may be difficult.

Often, it is better to leave young animals (including birds) alone even if they seem to be abandoned or in difficulties. Usually, their mother is waiting close by to help once the coast is clear, and is teaching the youngster to fend for itself. "Rescuing" young is only necessary if after leaving them completely alone for a few hours, it is obvious that they really are abandoned. More information is available here.

Several wild animals such as hedgehogs, foxes and badgers can be encouraged into gardens and helped by careful feeding, but it is important to know what to give them and how to treat them.

Many varieties of birds, often different kinds at different times of the year, will come to gardens if there is the right kind of food (and water) provided. More information is available here.

Before beginning to feed wild animals or birds, it's important to be sure that this is in their best interests (for example, encouraging them into towns might be dangerous for them), and if they get used to having food, they will depend on it so the supply must be reliable.

For a lot of information about caring for wild animals, please visit the national RSPCA website.

Unfortunately, not everyone takes an enlightened view on wildlife and illegal and cruel activities do take place.

To report cases of cruelty, or animals that are injured or suffering, please call the 24-hour Cruelty and Advice Line on 0300 1234 999
Calls are charged as if to an 01 number, so are free if you have a calling package that includes free calls to 01/02 numbers.
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