Education & Awareness:
What to look for and what you can do to help prevent harm to our wildlife.
Yard work and outside house maintenance
Be observant, look for animals and their nests before you begin construction, pressure washing, painting, tree removal and trimming, lawn maintenance or yard work. Bats, squirrels, birds, snakes and other creatures will hide or build their nests in trees and under dead palm fronds. Eastern cottontails will make their nests along walkways, fence lines, garden boxes, under shrubs and even in the middle of your yard. Mourning doves may build their nests over your doorway, porch lights or shutters.
Wildlife is everywhere and we need your help to protect them. If you find wildlife while doing your projects, please call us at 941-637-3830 for advice on what to do before continuing your work. If the animal is injured, it will need medical attention right away. I found an injured animal, now what?
Your pet dogs and cats are predators to wildlife
We admit many patients injured, and often killed due to pet attacks. Small birds and mammals are often the prey of house cats. Gopher tortoises are a commonly admitted due to dog bites. A simple pull-away collar with a bell attached worn by your cat can save an animal’s life. If your dog runs freely in your fenced yard, pay attention if they alert you to something. They may have found an animal that is now scared and stressed. Even if your pet is just playing and not being aggressive, the stress the wild animal endures will be torture and can potentially kill it.
If your pet finds a wild animal, please bring your pet inside and call us at 941-637-3830 for advice on what to do for the wild animal before letting your pet back outside. If the animal is injured, it will need medical attention right away. I found an injured animal, now what?
Be responsible with fishing supplies and catches
Fishing hooks and line are a constant threat to our wildlife. Sea birds are often killed or severely injured when entangled in discarded fishing line and nets. Simply cleaning up and properly discarding your left-over line, hooks and netting will keep all animals safer.
Do not cut the line if you hook a bird. Get an extra person to help. Wear eye protection (sunglasses) if available. Slowly reel the bird in, cover its eyes, carefully remove the hook and release the bird (click here for complete guide). If you are uncomfortable or do not feel safe doing so, or if the animal is injured, please call us for help right away at 941-637-3830. The bird’s life depends on it.
Please do not feed Pelicans or any animal your scrap fish carcasses. Most fish are too large to swallow, even small fish bones can get stuck when not surrounded by soft tissue. Pelicans eat smaller bait fish. Large spines on the fish carcasses will tear their gullets or get caught in their throats making them unable to regurgitate the fish. Don’t kill them with kindness. It is never a good idea to feed wildlife causing them to associate humans with food. I found an injured animal, now what?
Orphaned or not? Some baby animals are best left alone
Does this animal need help? It’s often hard to tell if an animal truly needs to be rescued or not. Finding a baby wild animal doesn’t necessarily mean it needs human interference. Sometimes young are left alone while the parent(s) are hunting for food. Many young animals that are admitted to the PRWC are “kidnapped” by people that are just trying to help with the best of intentions.
If the young animal doesn’t have an obvious illness or injury, the best course of action is to return it or leave it with the parent(s). Wild animals DO NOT abandon or kill their young just because they were touched or moved by humans. The best chance of survival for a young wild animal is being left alone for the parents to care for. When in doubt, contact us at (941) 637-3830 and click the following link. I found an injured animal, now what?
Properly dispose of litter and garbage
Properly dispose of trash in the appropriate trash or recycle bin. Rinse all cans and jars before throwing them away to reduce the chance of tempting a wild animal with the food smells. Secure the lids of your trash and recycle bins if animals are getting into them.
There’s a bird inside my building, what do I do?
Most of the time just simply opening a door will free the bird or animal. Do not stand at the exit, the animal will not leave the area until it feels safe to do so. If the wild animal appears to be injured please call us immediately at 941-637-3830 and click the following links for more help. I found an injured animal, now what?
Safely brake for wildlife
Please use caution while driving especially in clearly marked wildlife areas, crossings and zones. Tortoises and turtles are killed by vehicle impacts almost daily in our area. If you can safely help a turtle cross the road, please be sure to bring it to the side in which direction it was heading in. DO NOT try to drive over a turtle with your car, chances are you will injure the turtle and damage the undercarriage of your vehicle.
If you are not sure what breed of turtle it is, don’t assume it’s a water turtle and release it into a nearby lake because it may be a land tortoise, although they enjoy some water, they are not aquatic. Click here for a turtle identification brochure
If you see a group of birds such as vultures on the side of the road, slow down and proceed with care. Vultures can be somewhat obnoxious while fighting over food and oblivious to vehicles approaching. If they are scavenging on a dead opossum, it may be a female with alive babies inside her pouch! On occasion, you may have to slow down for a family of ducks or sandhill cranes crossing the road, or a family of raccoons or a mother opossum carrying her young on her back ,and if you are really lucky; a deer, bobcat or coyote may need to cross your path.
Being alert and aware of wildlife while driving can significantly reduce the death of wildlife from vehicle impacts. However, sometimes, no matter how careful you are, you may experience a tragic experience you could not prevent. Squirrels and rabbits can be unpredictable and sometimes come out of nowhere and run quickly right in front of you often too late for you to safely stop. If you experience this or find an injured animal on the road, please stop and help. Dead mother opossums may have a pouch full of babies that will need immediate care. Call us immediately at 941-637-3830 and click this link. I found an injured animal, now what?
Glue traps, snap traps and poisons for nuisance rodents
Glue traps claim the lives of unintended victims. These traps are usually set for rats that are being destructive to property but end up catching our innocent wildlife instead. We see many snakes, lizards and birds trapped in these glue traps and unfortunately many do not survive due to suffocation or severe trauma. The trapped animal will struggle trying to escape ripping off their skin, fur or feathers. It is very stressful on the animal and is very complicated and delicate work for rehabbers attempting to remove the animal from this deathtrap and the outcome is not always good.
Snap traps also claim the lives of many forms of wildlife. These traps do not always instantly kill its target, many times it not being the target it catches. Squirrels, moles and other small creatures looking for food will come in to contact with these devices. The animal will suffer a drawn out death most likely suffering massive head trauma and/or broken bones. Many rats that are native to our area are not even the culprits that enter houses and destroy property and will too fall victim to this horrific death.
Poisons left down to eradicate the rats will also kill other wildlife. If a rabbit or squirrel ingests these toxins, they will be weakened while slowly dying and more vulnerable to be an Eagle, Owl or a Hawks next prey or become poisoned dead road kill for scavenger animals to meal on. The wild animal gets its meal but has now ingested poison and will certainly get sick and possibly die becoming the next poisoned road kill.
There are humane traps available that will not kill and no need for poisons. With these safe traps, if you catch an innocent creature, you can release it without causing harm. When you catch the intended nuisance animal, call us at 941-637-3830 and we can help you with the next steps to take.
Please DO NOT feed the wildlife or keep as a pet
Feeding wildlife encourages animals to associate humans with food. Not only is this method dangerous, it can also cause the wild animal to be imprinted with humans which has a negative impact on the animal remaining “wild” and caring for itself and then becoming depending on you for its survival. Wild animals should be fearful of humans, this will greatly increase the chance for survival.
Wild animals require special diets, especially the young. Feeding wild animals an improper diet can cause harm to any animal. Giving the wrong formulas, foods and amounts can lead to malnourishment, bone disease and developmental problems.
Wild animals are not pets. You cannot domesticate a wild animal. It is also illegal. Cute and cuddly baby wild animals are hard too resist but they grow up quickly and their natural “wild” instincts kick in. They start biting, scratching, hard to handle and just being wild. By this time it’s too late to release it back in to the wild because the wild animal hasn’t developed the skills needed to survive on its own.
Wild animals can carry diseases and parasites Rabies vector species of wild animals such as Raccoons, Skunks and Bats can carry rabies and not show signs of infection. Many wild animals are infested with mites and other parasites. Salmonella infections are common with reptiles and amphibians. Introducing wild animals into your home can expose your family to potentially fatal illness and disease.
Wild animals may not need rescuing. The most common way that people acquire wild animal pets is by finding them when they are young babies and thinking they are orphaned or abandoned by the mother. All too often this is not the case, unfortunately many times they are being kidnapped. Please click here for more information.
This bird keeps hitting my glass window, what can I do?
Reflective windows injure and kill birds everyday. Many birds see themselves in the reflection and think it is a rival invading its territory. This is very common especially during mating season. Sometimes the reflection can look like an extended flight and landing path especially if there is a lot of trees and sky in the reflection. The impact to window can cause severe head trauma, broken bones and even death.
What can I do to stop these birds from hurting themselves? This has been a hard challenge to solve but here are some suggested ways that have been proven to work.
- Place stickers or window clings on the outside of your windows
- Hang reflective items in front of window such as wind chimes, compact discs, wind spinners
- Use bar soap to soap the outside of your window
- Relocate feeders far away or very close to the window
Please do not relocate wildlife to another area
Relocating wildlife can greatly reduce the chances of survival. Wild animals have their own territories and a new animal present in the area can lead to fighting, sometimes to the death. If they do not die, the injuries they can sustain may need medical attention, causing infection and suffering, and possibly leaving the animal vulnerable and unable to hunt for food which will cause a slow agonizing death.
- Wild animals will try to return home. During their long trip trying to get back home, the wild animal will have to cross unfamiliar territory and roads during the journey and possibly encounter many dangers along the way.
- Food sources become more limited or scarce.
- You could also be spreading disease to a healthy wild community
- Many wildlife species are protected under the law