What to do if you find an injured or orphaned animal
If you find an animal in need of help, follow these steps to ensure the safety of both the animal and you. Remember, injured animals are usually scared and they may bite or scratch out of fear. ALWAYS USE CAUTION WHENEVER DEALING WITH WILD ANIMALS.
1. Determine if the animal is in need of help. Sometimes animals behave in ways that make us think they are hurt when they are actually perfectly healthy. Some signs that the animal does need help include bleeding, a broken limb, shivering, or being brought to you by a cat or dog. Also, remember that not every baby animal you find is orphaned. Many times parents will leave the babies alone while they go find food. Shivering, vomiting, injuries, or evidence of a dead parent nearby are signs that the baby is an orphan.
2. 2. Contact a local wildlife rehabilitator for assistance. ECWR representatives have experience in dealing with all of the local species, and they will give you more specific instructions on how to help the animal. Describe the animal, its physical condition, and location to the representative so that they can give you the best instructions. If you cannot reach an ECWR representative, contact the state or federal wildlife agencies.
3. 3. Unless told otherwise, the safest way to capture and transport the animal is by gently covering it with a pillowcase or towel and placing it in cardboard box lined with a towel. ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN DEALING WITH WILD ANIMALS. Punch some air holes in the box first, and then line the bottom with a soft towel or cloth. While wearing gloves, use another towel to cover the animal and gently scoop it up and place it in the box. Tape the box shut and put the animal in a warm, dark, quiet place until you can get the animal to the wildlife rehabilitator.
4. Keep children and pets away from the animal and don’t give it food or water. Injured and orphaned animals are scared and may be in shock.
- After contact with an animal, wash your hands and anything else the animal contacted, such as towels or a pet carrier.
6. 6. Get the animal to a wildlife rehabilitator as soon as you can. Prompt care and treatment by a professional will give the animal the best chance of healing properly.
FOR YOUR OWN SAFETY, NEVER HANDLE AN ANIMAL BEFORE CONSULTING WITH A WILDLIFE REHABILITATOR.
For wildlife emergency call the Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge: 850-650-1880 or for after hours call FWC : 1-888-404-3922.
Wildlife is a vital part of Florida's ecosystem, and a healthy ecosystem in turn benefits our own health and well being.
An essential part of the ECWR mission is to educate and encourage environmentally responsibility including the appreciation of native wildlife.
As growth and development continue in our area, encounters and conflicts with native animals are bound to occur. The Wildlife Refuge provides well-reasoned, effective, and humane solutions to conflicts with wildlife.
If each of us learn more about the natural history and behaviors of our local native animals, we might discover that a "nuisance" animal is in an essential element of the eco-system.
Remember it is easier to change human behavior than to change the behaviors of wildlife.
Tips on reducing animal encounters in your yard:
- Learn more about the animals that live in your area.
- Place your trash cans at the curb on the day of pick-up rather than the night before. Store cans inside a shed or garage in between pick-ups.
- Make your home or yard less attractive to the animals you don't want there. Landscaping choices and habitat modification can encourage or discourage certain species. Deter snakes, skunks, or other animals by removing potential hiding places, such as rock and wood piles or storage sheds with space under the floor.
- Cut off access to the places where animals enter buildings—cap chimneys and seal holes, for example. Close off potential den sites under decks, porches, steps, and crawl spaces. Fence vulnerable gardens and trees or use netting to exclude birds and other animals from plants.
- Use devices that flash, move, make noise, or spray water to scare animals away. Chemical repellents labeled for the species you want to discourage can scare animals with their scents or make potential food unpalatable. Trapping a wild animal can often cause more trouble for you and can be dangerous for the animal.
- Do not feed wild or domesticated animals in your yard. If you have an outdoor pet never free feed or leave food out over night.
For some more compassionate and humane solutions to coexisting with our wild neighbors please contact the ECWR at 650-1880.
The Emerald Coast Wildlife Refuge provides low cost environmental consulting for area development companies, local government agencies, businesses, and individuals. The refuge has an on staff field biologist that meets the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission requirements to conduct a wide variety of research and survey projects, including migratory birds and endangered species projects.
For more information contact Steve Shippee at 850-650-1880 or firstname.lastname@example.org.