EMERGENCY WILDLIFE NUMBERS
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Comm: 1 (888) 404 – 3922
Coral Springs Humane Officers (Coral Springs only): (954) 344 – 1800
South Florida Wildlife Care Center (Ft. Lauderdale): (954) 524 – 4302
Duck Haven: injured ducks only (Margate): (954) 979 – 5044
Pelican Seabird Station (Miami): (305) 751 – 9640
The Conservancy of Southwest Florida (Naples): (941) 262 – 0304
Busch Wildlife Sanctuary (Jupiter): (561) 575 – 3399
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT WILDLIFE:
Does the Animal Need Help?
Every year thousands of young wild animals are found by people. Most of these wild animals do not need to be rescued. Humans are always a young wild animal’s last hope for survival; never it’s best hope. A young animal should be removed from the wild only after all avenues to reunite it with adult animals have been explored.
Is the Animal an Orphan?
An “orphan” is a young animal that is unable to care for itself and whose parents cannot be found or are known to be dead. It is natural for all young animals to explore the world alone once they leave the nest. If you have found a healthy young animal that is able to walk and is fully furred or feathered, it probably does not need your help. Its parents are usually nearby, even if they are not visible to you. Observe the young animal from a distance for some time before intervening.
Is the Animal in Danger?
Young wild animals in danger do not need to be taken from the wild, just protected from danger. Pets and children are the most immediate dangers to a young wild animal in your yard. Pets may attack the young animal and children may cause injury by mishandling it. Some wild animals carry diseases. Keep pets and children away from the wild animal while you assess the situation.Another danger is hypothermia. Nestling (infant) animals need to be brooded and kept warm by adults. If a young animal is cold to the touch, the animal needs help.If the young animal is along a roadway, move it to a safer location, but do not endanger yourself or others to rescue it.
Is The Animal Injured or Weak?
If the young animal appears thin, weak or injured, it should be rescued and delivered to a wildlife rehabilitation facility. If an animal has been attacked by a cat or dog, presume it is injured even if no injury is obvious. Pet attacks usually cause significant internal damage.
Songbirds and Birds of Prey: Nestling songbirds and birds of prey (hawks & owls) usually lack feathers or are covered with down. They are not yet able to perch. These young birds must be put back into their nests or new nests need to be constructed for them. Contact a wildlife rehabilitation facility so they can assist you in identifying the species and determining the best way to get the bird back into the nest.When songbirds and birds of prey leave the nest, they are “fledglings” and have feathers. They leave the nest for short periods of time, hop along the branches and often fall out of trees. Place the fledgling on a nearby tree branch out of the reach of domestic animals (cats, dogs) Watch from a distance to assure that the adult birds continue to care for the young bird.
Waterfowl: Young ducks are commonly separated from the rest of the brood as they follow parents to food or water. When you find a young duckling, note the location of possible ponds and canals where the rest of the brood may be, and try to reunite the baby with its mother. You can also try to put a baby duck with another family. There is a 50/50 chance the mother will accept the new baby as long as they are alike in age. Do not endanger the waterfowl, yourself or others by attempting to chase young or adult waterfowl when they are on the road.
Squirrels and Raccoons: Squirrels and raccoons will retrieve their offspring when they fall or wander from the nest. They also have alternate nest sites if one nest is destroyed. Give the mothers plenty of time to find and rescue their young.
Opossums: Opossums are marsupials (related to kangaroos). Their young stay in a pouch on the mother’s belly. Female opossums that have been killed by cars in spring and summer may have live young in their pouches that need to be rescued.
Rabbits: Rabbits feed their young only at night. You will not find the female at her nest during the day. Rabbits leave the nest when they are three weeks old. A small rabbit of five inches in length, with its eyes open and ears standing up is self-sufficient and does not need your assistance.
Download “I found a baby mammal. Now what?” information sheet.
Download “I found a baby bird. Now what?” information sheet.