Injured and Orphaned Wildlife
Generally, if you find a baby animal it is best to leave it alone. Rarely are animals actually orphaned; the parent may be searching for food or observing its young from a distance. Do not pick up baby animals or remove them from their natural environment. If you come across wildlife you think may be injured or orphaned, you should note the location and contact a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator in your area.
If you cannot reach a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator, you can also contact the appropriate FWC Regional Office for assistance.
Keeping any sick, injured, orphaned, or otherwise impaired wildlife beyond the time necessary to transport to a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator is a violation of Florida law. A Wildlife Rehabilitation permit issued by FWC is required to rehabilitate wildlife, including any care beyond immediate transport of wildlife to a Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitator.
If the animal is a domestic or feral animal, such as a dog, cat or horse, please contact the nearest Humane Society, Animal Services Office or Animal Control Agency.
Injured/Orphaned Wildlife FAQs
The FWC prioritizes response to wildlife incidents that involve human health and safety concerns. The following species should be reported to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline if found injured, sick, orphaned or dead: manatees, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, Florida panthers and black bears. Reports of these species should be made to the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922) so that authorized, trained staff can respond.
FWC staff, including law enforcement officers, are not able to respond to all injured wildlife calls due to limitations with staffing locations and available resources. Local, licensed wildlife rehabilitators can expertly assist with many species of injured, sick or orphaned wildlife. A list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators, listed by county and types of wildlife they can assist, can be found in the Licensed Wildlife Rehabilitators List. Individuals that encounter injured, sick, or starving shorebirds or seabirds can use the FWC's Seabird Rehabilitators Map to find the nearest seabird rehabilitator and/or transporter to take the bird to a rehabilitator.
Response time and availability of wildlife rehabilitators may vary as many are volunteering their time and may be busy assisting with other calls or tending to other wildlife under their care. When you call a wildlife rehabilitator and get their voicemail, make sure that you leave a detailed message with your contact information and follow any requested directions. If you cannot reach a wildlife rehabilitator and need more guidance, you can contact your local FWC regional office Monday-Friday during normal business hours. Outside of normal business hours or for reporting injured, sick, orphaned or dead manatees, dolphins, whales, sea turtles, gopher tortoises, Florida panthers and black bears, call the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline at 1-888-404-FWCC (3922).