How to Help Injured Wildlife in Florida
Updated: Jul 25
What bothers me more than seeing an animal killed by a car is seeing an animal still alive after being hit by a car. While some may not care about animals, and regard injured and dying animals as animal control, for those who want to save the animals from suffering at the side of the road, this post is for you. Check below for resources on what to do if you find an injured animal.
Today, I had the misfortune of finding another animal left to die on the roadside; bleeding and its shell cracked. The turtle was on the edge of Pine Island Road on Matlacha, and looked like a big rock. But I saw it lift its head as I drove past, so I turned around and went back to retrieve it. Beneath that turtle's hard, big shells there were small legs, organs and soft matter that was broken and bleeding. Its shell wobbled as I lifted the creature off the hot pavement, and I was pretty sure it would not survive, but I couldn't leave it there to bake and get further crushed, so put it in my car. I drove to Peace River Wildlife Hospital in Punta Gorda, hoping it could hang on. The turtle poked its head out of the shell and looked around the car a couple of times but died before I reached the hospital. Sigh.
Animals dart into the road, or you might not avoid it because you are going way too fast to stop safely. Accidents happen, but, if you hit an animal with your car, there are steps you can follow to limit its suffering or give it a chance to recuperate.
First, stop the car and, if it's safe to get out, and the animal is not a danger to you (like a croc or coyote), check that it's not alive - that it's as dead as a doornail and maybe even that it is not pregnant (do you say animals are pregnant?). If it's still alive and it's safe for you to transport it, then get it to a wildlife hospital. (see below for a list of numbers).
If the animal is possibly a danger to you, you are still not off the hook for hitting it with your car. Call Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They can instruct you further on what to do or where to go, or they will send someone out to follow up.
This list of numbers may be useful for to put in your phone in case you come across injured or orphaned animals while enjoying Florida's vast and natural wildlife.
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission: 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Cellular phone users can also call *FWC or #FWC
Peace River Wildlife Hospital in Punta Gorda FL (941) 637 3830
223 Dr Martin Luther King Jr Blvd, Punta Gorda, FL 33950
CROW Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (239) 472-3644
1883 Sanibel Captiva Road
Sanibel, FL 33957
If you have any other tips and additional information to share, please contact me and I can update this blog post.
If you liked this post, check out my post on Digging up the dirt on burrowing owls.