Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue

Patients & Info

Environmental degradation affects all species of wildlife, causing needless injury and death. Only a small percentage of wildlife rescued by Florida Keys Wildlife Rescue (FKWR) are victims of natural occurrences; the majority suffer preventable injuries caused by human behavior such as pollution, habitat encroachment, and deliberate maiming. In addition, humans often feed wildlife food incompatible with their systems, causing internal damage, starvation, and, ultimately, death if there is no intervention. In the Florida Keys, the predominant victims of these activities are wild birds, primarily because their numbers are greater than any other species in this area of limited land mass and shallow waters, but mammals, reptiles, and amphibians are victims as well. These wild critters, many of them water birds, have become indicators of a degrading environment in the Keys; the number of disabled critters increases with each new year.

In 2009, FKWR treated 1,219 wildlife critters. Of this, 1,158 were birds, and 857 were wading birds. Other species included raccoons, Key deer, marsh rabbits, rat snakes, turtles, and opposums. Many of the rescues were Federally or State listed as endangered, threatened, or species of special concern. We were able to rehabilitate and return 90% of these critters back to the wild.

Permanent residents (critters not releasable) are employed in FKWR’s educational program.

Some of the Hazards Our Wildlife Encounter

Improperly-discarded trash – monofilament fishing line, assorted plastic products, cans, bottles, oil, and other toxins – is a huge problem in the Keys. Entanglement in fishing line is the major cause of deaths and injuries of wading birds and marine mammals. Encounters with plastics, primarily plastic bags, maim and kill our wildlife every year. Other human-caused problems we encounter are: 1) wide-scale pollution of our waters by red tide and algae blooms containing toxins which disable wading birds, 2) deliberate shooting of wildlife with BB, blow, dart, and shotguns by adults and juveniles, and 3) feeding fileted fish carcasses to wading birds, causing numerous injuries and deaths, primarily of Brown Pelicans. Other rescues suffer injuries from being hit by cars, flying into windows, flying into power lines, and encounters with fences.

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