What should you do when you find a sick or injured wild animal?
It is a question that Bray-based Pete the Vet has to answer quite a lot.
Although dogs, cats and other pets are a vet’s bread and butter, Pete said wildlife gets brought in “every day” for treatment.
Speaking to Moncrieff, he said most members of the public want to help animals but are often quite unformed about how they should do it.
“I will say, a lot of the wildlife that presents to the vets, doesn’t even need to be at the vets,” he said.
“It’s very common for people to pick up fledgling birds that are just learning to fly.
“The very worst thing you can do for a bird like that is to pick them up and take them to the vets.
“That often is enough stress to kill them.
“So, what I’d say to people very clearly is, if you find a wild animal that you think may be in trouble, then do help - but the best way to help is to go straight to a website and you can do it on your phone very easily.
“That website is called IrishWildlifeMatters.ie.”
The website takes readers, step by step through what can be done to help many of Ireland’s most common species of wild animals.
“It’s got a section called ‘Found an animal?’ and then it’s got fox, badger, otter, deer, hare, rabbit, hedgehog, squirrel, adult bird, baby bird, bat, marine mammals,” Pete said.
“Click on those and it’ll ask you a few questions about what sort of condition the animal or bird is in and then give you advice on what you need to do.”
There is, however, one type of animal that Pete suggests should always be left alone if seen to be ill.
“If you find a sick or ailing seabird, you should leave it alone,” he said.
“I know we all want to prevent animal suffering but the problem is avian flu is rife at the moment, affecting Irish seabirds and it does make them sick and it does kill them.
“The problem is, it can be highly dangerous to humans as well. You don’t want to touch that.
“What you should do is call the Department of Agriculture, they have a helpline designed for this situation.”
Main image: Pine Marten in the wild. Picture by: Alamy.com