Invasive Species Policy

The Mission of the Peace River Wildlife Center is to contribute to the survival of native Florida wildlife through rescue, rehabilitation and education.

There are many invasive species that have not historically been found in Florida, but have taken over the ecosystem with their growing populations. They outcompete our native birds, reptiles, and mammals for food and nesting sites. Some species are able to cross breed with natives and can quickly cause our indigenous populations to become extinct.

In an effort to do the best we can for native Florida wildlife, PRWC will not rehabilitate and release invasive species that are detrimental to the native ones. We will still accept injured individuals, but they will be humanely euthanized upon admission.

Many people call with concerns for fledgling birds that are on the ground. This is a common step in the maturation of fledgling birds of any species and they do not need to be assisted. We always encourage people to leave these birds alone and allow the parents to care for them in the short time it will take for them to learn to eat and fly on their own.

By not releasing dangerous invasive species into the wild, PRWC is taking one further step to ensure the health and welfare of our native species.

Peace River Wildlife Center is required by federal and state laws to comply with their policies regarding non-native animal species in Florida that have been brought to our facility for treatment. In order to maintain our licenses and permits, we are compelled to obey the rules set forth by the governing bodies—USFWS and FWC.

Domestic animals are those that have been kept in captivity to live or work with humans. Examples include, but are not limited to: farm animals, domestic rabbits, ornamental pigeon breeds. To avoid having these species released into the wild, PRWC will accept them if no other rescue is available, but they must be placed into a permanent, appropriate home within 72 hours.

Non-native species are those that are not historically found in our area but are not found in abundance and are not currently endangering native species. They have the potential to become invasive if they establish a breeding population and flourish in a specific habitat. Examples include: sulcata tortoises, parrot species, sugar gliders, etc. To avoid having these species released into the wild, PRWC will accept them if no other rescue is available, but they must be placed into a permanent, appropriate home within 72 hours.

Invasive species are animals that have not historically been found in Florida, are not living in captivity, and have taken over the ecosystem with their growing populations. Examples include: Muscovy ducks, European starlings, brown anoles, pythons, and cane (bufo) toads. PRWC can accept these species if they are injured, but they may not be treated or released. Unless a licensed and permitted facility (with documentation on file here) is willing to accept the animal, it must be humanely euthanized.

Per Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) there are over 500 non-native species in the state. Invasive species rank second only to habitat loss as a major threat to native ecosystems in Florida. They rank as the top cause of species endangerment in the US.

Invasive Species compete with native wildlife for territories and food, introduce diseases, and can quickly cause the demise of an entire endemic species.

Under Florida state law it is unlawful to import (for sale or use), or to release within this state, any species of the animal kingdom not indigenous to Florida without having obtained a permit to do so from FWC (372.265, F.S.) This means that legally, PRWC cannot treat and release any invasive species that comes into the clinic. Euthanasia is not an easy matter but understanding why invasive species cannot be treated will allow individuals to have a better appreciation of PRWC’s mission to save native wildlife.

PRWC cannot allow these invasive species to be rehomed or released for many reasons. The primary reason is PRWC could lose its license to rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife if found to be doing so. Adopting these invasive animals out to unpermitted people is also not an option because of the follow-up required. Often, adopters release the animals without PRWC’s knowledge. Releasing one invasive individual may not seem like an issue but the long-term effects repeatedly result in more harm than good.

PRWC requires staff (employees and volunteers) to adhere to these guidelines and ask questions when needed. Some people will not agree with this policy, but PRWC must abide by FWC and USFWS laws.