ORLANDO, Fla. – Living alongside the state's wildlife is something every Floridian is used to, but things can get complicated when an animal is sick, injured or orphaned.
While many residents might think that trying to approach the animal is their best bet, experts say that's not the case, especially considering that the critter could be suffering from a contagious disease such as rabies.
Instead, there are a variety of tools designed to help citizens report when a creature is in need of medical attention so help can be dispatched.
Who to call or how to report depends on the situation. Below we've laid out how to get help for an animal in certain scenarios.
Helping domestic or feral animals
Dogs, cats and other domestic animals often evoke the most sympathy, but good Samaritans are still urged to use caution if they encounter one that is sick, injured or being abused.
In this case, the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission recommends contacting the nearest Humane Society, animal control agency or animal services office. Here are those numbers for every county in Central Florida:
Brevard County Animal Services: Call 321-633-2024. Flagler County Animal Services: Call 386-246-8612. Lake County Office of Animal Services: Call 352-343-9688, ext. 2 to report animal abuse or neglect. Call 352-742-4640 for non-emergency animal dispatch. Marion County Animal Services: Call 352-671-8727 or 352-732-9111 for an after-hours emergency. Orange County Animal Services: Call 311 or, if it's an emergency involving animal abuse in progress, call 911. Residents call also call 407-836-3111 to report domestic animal issues. Osceola County Animal Services: Call 407-742-8000. Polk County Animal Control: Call 863-577-1762. Seminole County Animal Services: Call 407-665-5201. Sumter County Animal Services: Call 352-689-4400. Volusia County Animal Services: For residents who live in unincorporated parts of the county, call 386-736-2700. For those within city limits, call the appropriate agency: Daytona Beach and Daytona Beach Shores, 386-248-1777; DeBary, 386-775-9999; DeLand, Lake Helen, Orange City and Pierson, 386-736-5999; Deltona, 386-878-8701; Edgewater, New Smyrna Beach and Port Orange, 386-423-3888; Holly Hill, Ormond Beach, Ponce Inlet and South Daytona, 386-248-1777; Oak Hill, 386-345-3522.
Helping orphaned or sick wildlife
It's important to note that often a baby animal might seem like it's been abandoned but really its mother is nearby and plans on returning. FWC recommends keeping a safe distance and never touch the animal. If you do genuinely believe that the animal is sick, injured or orphaned, call the appropriate FWC regional office.
Residents of Brevard, Flagler, Lake, Marion, Orange, Osceola, Sumter and Volusia counties can call the Northeast Regional Office at 352-732-1225. Polk County residents can call the Southwest Regional Office at 863-648-3200.
If you see or suspect a wildlife violation anywhere in the state, you can call 888-404-FWCC (3922) or *FWC or #FWC on a cellphone 24 hours per day, seven days a week. You can also click here to report a violation online. Anyone who submits a tip that leads to an arrest could be eligible for a reward of up to $1,000. Examples of wildlife violations include illegal hunting and taking protected wildlife species.
FWC also has a hotline for reporting sick, injured or dead bat at 888-404-FWCC (3922) and a hotline for reporting sickly, extremely skinny deer at 866-293-9282. Wild bird die-offs can be reported online here.
Helping marine life
In a state surrounded by water, encountering marine life at some point is inevitable. FWC has set up multiple hotlines where Floridians can report sick marine animals or aquatic hazards.
Sick, injured, dead or tagged manatees and sea turtles can be reported to FWC's Wildlife Alert Hotline at 888-404-FWCC (3922).
Oil spills or hazardous material spills in any Florida body of water can be reported by calling 800-320-0519.
Saltwater or freshwater fish kills can be reported online here or by calling 800-636-0511.
Nuisance alligators that could pose a risk to humans or pets can be reported by calling 866-FWC-GATOR (4286).
For more information about how to report a sick or injured animal sighting, click here.