Animal Acceptance Policy

The von Arx Wildlife Hospital (vAWH) at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida is permitted by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USWFS) and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) to rehabilitate and release injured, sick, and orphaned native birds, mammals, and reptiles.

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Our rehabilitation efforts provide the means for us to educate the public about conservation issues affecting Southwest Florida’s Wildlife.

State and Federal permits do not cover domestics (dogs, cats, parrots) or non-native wildlife species (Muscovy ducks, Eurasian collared doves, iguanas, English house sparrows, European starlings). The vAWH may be able to help rescuers find options for animals it is not permitted to accept.

While against the law, people often attempt to care for or raise native wildlife as pets. The von Arx Wildlife Hospital accepts native mammals, reptiles, and birds raised as pets and will attempt to reverse any habituation/taming/imprinting so the animal may be successfully released into the wild. If efforts are unsuccessful and the hospital cannot find an appropriate permanent home or the animal is unable to survive back in the wild, it will be humanely euthanized.

Species frequently admitted include eastern cottontails, opossums, grey squirrels, brown pelicans, double-crested cormorants, red-shouldered hawks, eastern screech owls, mourning doves, blue jays, gopher tortoises, and Florida red-bellied turtles.