With Hurricane Irma heading to Florida, South Florida Wildlife Center (SFWC), the nation’s highest-volume wildlife hospital, trauma center and rehabilitation facility, is making plans to protect more than 350 adult and nursery patients in its care.
Songbirds, seabirds, ducks, geese, squirrels, turtles and tortoises, woodpeckers, warblers, owls, and opossums are among the 60 species currently housed at the facility.
The center has temporarily relocated the animals in small groups with its 45 staff members and additional volunteers.
“SFWC facilities will be boarded up and protected so that we can return as soon as possible and be prepared for the substantial work ahead that we expect if the storm turns out to be as severe as current reports indicate,” said SFWC Executive Director Debra Parsons-Drake. “We will bring our own patients back to the facility and also work in partnership with other agencies around the state to do whatever we can to help all wildlife affected by Irma.”
Should Irma be severe and affect roadways and power, SFWC anticipates being closed until it is safe to resume operations.
After the storm, the center implores people not to bring wildlife to the Center without calling first as there may not be anyone there to care for them.
If people find an injured wild animal and want to help, SFWC requests that they place them into a covered box or carrier and move the animal to a quiet, warm and dry place away from people and pets.
People should always be cautious and wear gloves whenever handling wild animals.
Equally important, SFWC advises that people never attempt to restrain any animal that you are not certain you can safely handle.
SFWC recently sent a team including wildlife education director Lynn Miller, Ph.D. and animal care supervisor Sharon Gall, to provide direct care for Hurricane Harvey-battered and orphaned wildlife in the Houston area.
An affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, SFWC has been a member of the South Florida community for nearly 50 years, protecting South Florida’s biodiversity, transforming wildlife rehabilitation and saving lives.