Feeding wildlife can have unforeseen consequences

July 22, 2015

By Joanna Fitzgerald

Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital

68 animals admitted this past week

Two raccoons and a coral snake were among the 68 animals recently admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Other admissions include three northern gannets, a herring gull, two Florida red-bellied turtles and 12 eastern cottontails.

Raccoons admitted with similar problems

Two raccoons were admitted from different areas in Naples, yet both suffered similar problems. One had stuck his head through the circular opening on the plate of a tire and got stuck in the tire. The second raccoon stuck her front paw into a small PVC pipe and couldn’t free herself.

The gentleman who found the raccoon stuck in the tire picked the tire up and transported the raccoon to the Conservancy in the back of his truck. The raccoon was extremely stressed and required heavy sedation to safely free his head from the tire.

The second raccoon was equally incapacitated from having its paw stuck in the PVC pipe. Hospital staff sedated the raccoon on site which enable the raccoon to be lifted from the piece of rebar the PVC pipe had been covering.

The raccoon was transported to the Conservancy where staff safely removed the two foot long piece of PVC from her front paw.

Both raccoons suffered minimal injuries and swelling.

A raccoon is incapacitated after getting her paw stuck in a PVC pipe.

Please do not feed wildlife

Raccoons are prevalent in our area. People who feed their dogs and cats outdoors provide a food source for raccoons and other wildlife. This access to food can cause a nuisance situation.

Florida Administrative Code (FAC) prohibits offering food or garbage in such a manner that the person attracts black bears, coyotes, foxes or raccoons thereby creating a public nuisance, property damage, or a public safety risk.

A Collier County man was recently charged under this FAC for intentionally feeding raccoons.

Never feed wildlife and don’t feed pets outdoors — it keeps your pets safe from wild animal encounters and it prevents wildlife from expecting free meals.

Wildlife habituated to hand-feeding creates a dangerous situation.

If you feel you are experiencing a nuisance wildlife situation, please call the wildlife hospital for information. We may be able to provide long-term, humane solutions that will allow you to safely coexist with wildlife.

Recent Releases — 33 go home

  • 2 Florida softshell turtles
  • 1 Florida red-bellied turtle
  • 1 bold jumping spider
  • 2 blue jays
  • 5 opossums
  • 1 eastern screech owl
  • 1 peninsula cooter
  • 3 common grackles
  • 3 eastern cottontails
  • 4 mourning doves
  • 1 brown thrasher
  • 7 chimney swifts
  • 1 northern cardinal
  • 1 red-bellied woodpecker

Get involved

Please visit our website at www.conservancy.org and learn about the many opportunities there are to get involved.

Volunteers are vital in our efforts to assist native wildlife.

If you are unable to give of your time as a volunteer, become a member or donate.

However you choose to become involved, your support will help the Conservancy continue to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.