With Hurricane Irma heading to Florida, South Florida Wildlife Center, 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, encompassing about 60 species. These include songbirds, seabirds, ducks, geese, squirrels, turtles and tortoises, woodpeckers, warblers, owls, opossums and more.
According to Debra Parsons-Drake, SFWC executive director, “We have a plan in place to relocate all of our animals by Friday. We are in a strong position to keep them safe as they are all currently ambulatory. They will go home in small groups with our 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. 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.”
SFWC recently sent staffers to provide direct care for Hurricane Harvey-battered and orphaned wildlife in the Houston area. SFWC wildlife education director Lynn Miller, Ph.D. and animal care supervisor Sharon Gallardy arrived in Texas from Fort Lauderdale on September 3rd to assist the Texas Wildlife Rehab Coalition. Rescue workers on the ground report imperiled wildlife is flooding into human shelters, which are unable to accept or provide relief for them. SFWC has been providing hands-on specialized animal care/husbandry, assisting volunteers to provide optimal wildlife care, and performing other critical wildlife-relief functions.
Should Irma be severe and affect roadways and power, SFWC anticipates being closed until it is safe to resume operations. After the storm, it is important that people call ahead and don’t bring wildlife to the Center as there may not be anyone there to care for them.
If people find an injured wild animal and wish to help, if they can safely do so, SFWC asks 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. Always wear gloves whenever handling wild animals and use caution—do not attempt to restrain any animal that you are not certain you can safely handle.
South Florida Wildlife Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., an affiliate of The Humane Society of the United States, has been a member of the South Florida community for nearly 50 years, protecting South Florida's biodiversity, transforming wildlife rehabilitation and saving lives. SFWC provides emergency rescue services, diagnostics, surgical and other veterinary treatment, recovery habitats, orphan rearing and expert rehabilitative care to more than 12,000 injured, orphaned or imperiled animals annually, representing more than 250 species.