Peace River Wildlife Center

3400 Ponce de Leon Parkway | Punta Gorda, Florida 33950 | 941-637-3830

A Non Profit Wildlife Rehabilitation and Education Center

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I Found and Injured Animal, Now What?

The following information is for the general care and stabilization of an injured animal until help from a trained rescuer arrives. In the state of Florida, It is illegal to keep captive and rehabilitate wild animals without proper licensing and training. Caring for a wild animal without proper training and education can lead to an animals suffering and possible death. 

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.

If you see the following signs, the animal needs help:

  • Obvious bleeding, lethargic, wounds or broken bones
  • Mucus or discharge from the eyes and/or nose
  • Swarms of flies around the animal, fly eggs and/or maggots on its body
  • Attacked by a predator, or seen in the mouth of a dog or cat

Always use extreme caution when handling any wildlife, even the smallest creatures can injure you when stressed and scared

** IMPORTANT ** Keep in mind scared or injured animals may bite, kick, claw and poke and can also carry and transfer certain diseases and parasites such as mites. Wear gloves, eye protection and use extreme care when handling any animal. For rabies vector species mammals; Bobcats, Coyotes, Raccoons, Otters, Foxes and Bats or large Birds of Prey such as Eagles, Hawks and Owls, please follow the “If you CANNOT safely handle the animal” directions below.

If you are able to safely handle the animal without causing injury to yourself or the animal

  • Using a pillowcase, towel or similar, carefully and gently throw over the full body completely covering the head, wrap around body and legs, picking the animal up and place into any container that has a secure ventilated lid and lined inside with soft warm material
  • Transport the animal to the Center or call us at (941) 637-3830 for pick up arrangements
  • Do not attempt to treat or feed the animal as this can be more harmful and stressful to the animal, the less stress on the animal the better chance of survival
  • If after hours, leave the container covered in a safe, quiet and warm area of your home such as your garage away from pets, children and noise
  • Call (941) 637-3830 and leave message with brief details that you have the animal in your possession or left it in the overnight drop off box  (include the animals location and your name and phone number)
  • Transport the animal to the Center first thing in the morning or call us at (941) 637-3830 for pick up arrangements
  • We do have an overnight drop off box to the left side of our main entrance gate for emergencies as last resort if the above method is not an option

If you CANNOT safely handle the animal 

• If possible, carefully place a box, laundry basket, recycle bin or similar over the top of the animal to contain it
• Call the Center at (941) 637-3830 and Animal Control at (941) 833-5690 and leave message with brief details that you have the animal contained (include the animals location and your name and phone number)
• Wait for a return phone call for further instructions 

Useful Printable Guides:

I Found a Baby Mammal, Now What? (PDF) | I Found a Baby Bird, Now What? (PDF) | Construct a Squirrel Nest Box (PDF) 

Click the buttons below for animal specific information on how to help injured, orphaned or displaced Wildlife.

Handling wild animals can be dangerous and they can carry disease and parasites. Always wear gloves when handling any animals. especially rabies vector species mammals; Bobcats, Coyotes, Raccoons, Otters, Foxes and Bats. Large birds of prey such as Eagles, Hawks and Owls can cause serious injury and require experience and thick gloves when handling. Please call us at 941-637-3830 and/or Animal Control at 941-833-5690 for further assistance.