Wildlife Tips for Visitors
WILDLIFE TIPS FOR VACATIONERS AND SEASONAL RESIDENTS
Florida’s weather and abundant natural resources make it a popular travel destination for vacationers and seasonal residents. When visiting, whether for a short vacation and for an entire season, it is important to be aware of and safely coexist with Florida’s native wildlife. By taking a few simple actions, people can significantly reduce the chances of having negative encounters with wildlife and help in the long-term conservation of the state's native species.
- Keep pets inside, secured on short (6-foot or less), non-retractable leashes, or attended even in fenced yards. Free-ranging pets can both harm wildlife and be harmed themselves by wildlife.
- Pets should not swim in open bodies of fresh water. Prevent interactions between pets and alligators and crocodiles, snakes, otters, and other wildlife by walking pets in areas away from the water’s edge.
- If feeding pets outside, remain present while pets are eating and clean up food, dishes and bowls when your pet is finished.
- If your pet is bitten or injured by a wild animal, contact your veterinarian for follow-up care.
- Do not store food or scented items in vehicles, screened enclosures, carports or unsecured structures. Wildlife may attempt to access any unsecured food or scented items.
- When grilling outdoors, do not leave grills unattended, clean thoroughly afterward, and store grills in a sturdy shed or garage if possible.
- When leaving or returning to your seasonal residence:
- Inspect potential entry points into the structure (soffits, attics, crawl spaces, etc.) If there is no evidence of wildlife in the structure, make any needed repairs so that wildlife does not enter the structure. If wildlife is found during your inspection, consult an FWC Wildlife Assistance Biologist for more guidance.
- When away for an extended period, secure vehicles in garages or cover your vehicle to prevent wildlife from taking up residence, nesting or potentially damaging the vehicle.
- Give wildlife space – view wild animals through binoculars or from an adequate distance so wildlife doesn’t feel threatened or become habituated to people.
- Never intentionally or unintentionally feed wildlife and secure food and food waste in wildlife resistant containers. Feeding wild animals can reduce their natural fear of humans which may result in aggression and the need for the animal to be removed or humanely killed in order to protect public safety. Please note that it is illegal to feed several species of wildlife in Florida.
- Let the professionals care for sick, injured and orphaned wildlife. A list of licensed Florida wildlife rehabilitators can be found here. Please note that if you see an injured, sick or dead manatee, dolphin, sea turtle, black bear or Florida panther, please call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).