EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Earlier this week, a Smithfield woman stopped to help a coyote pup that was abandoned on the side of a busy roadway.

As we head into the primary mating season for many types of local wildlife, the potential for that type of encounter increases.

So, if you find yourself in a situation like that, what are you supposed to do?

Oftentimes, young animals that appear to be abandoned aren’t actually in any danger, and experts say it’s best to simply leave them be.

But sometimes these critters are in need of help, especially if they’re injured. The Wildlife Clinic of RI told 12 News that most of the calls it receives are for animals that were hit by vehicles.

Sam Ward, a wildlife technician at the clinic, said first and foremost, never handle an animal with your bare hands.

“If it needs to be contained to keep the animal safe, please gently put it into a box with a blanket or towel,” Ward added.

More than 6,000 animals of 183 different species were cared for by the clinic last year. The most commonly in need of rehabilitation are squirrels and rabbits, specifically eastern gray squirrels and eastern cottontails, according to chief veterinarian Dr. Mariah Beck, DVM.

“Our goal is always to release them back into the wild, so that’s what we do here,” Beck said.

As for the coyote pup in Smithfield, Ward and Beck said it was likely being carried by its mother across the road when it was dropped and left behind. It’s also possible, however, that another animal had gotten into its den and dropped it while trying to cross the road.

They added that the pup is in good shape and being fed formula four to five times a day.

If you encounter wildlife you think may be in need of help, contact the Wildlife Clinic of RI at (401) 294-6363.

Photos: Animals rescued by Wildlife Clinic of RI (story continues below)

Other Ways You Can Help

Every day next week, the clinic will be holding a “baby shower,” a virtual fundraiser to help raise money to support wildlife rehabilitation efforts.

“Any support that you can give us through the fundraiser and anything else on our website is very much appreciated,” Beck said.