Two raccoons suffer in live traps

February 8, 2024

Two raccoons were among the fifty-two animals admitted to the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida this past week. Other admissions include a common loon, a purple martin, two gopher tortoises, a Florida box turtle and a hispid cotton rat.

Raccoon Trapped with Leg Stuck

A mid-morning call came in at the von Arx Wildlife Hospital reporting two raccoons seen in two live traps stationed near a dumpster in a community in north Naples. The caller was concerned because one of the raccoons had reached through the wire of the trap and his front leg was stuck and extremely swollen.

There was no name on the traps identifying the trapping service and the property management company was unable to provide any information. Hospital staff dispatched a volunteer Critter Courier to retrieve the trapped animals knowing the raccoon was suffering in pain.

Staff examine a raccoon after providing a sedative. The raccoon was injured after its leg became stuck in a live trap.

Upon admission, hospital staff provided an injectable sedative to the raccoon with his leg stuck in the trap. Once the drugs took effect, staff assessed the situation. The raccoon’s leg was so swollen it was impossible to remove it from the trap without cutting the wire. Staff took a radiograph after the raccoon was freed from the trap.

The damage to the leg was so significant, the only option was humane euthanasia. 

Another Trapped Raccoon Shot Five Times

Staff administered a sedative to the second raccoon in order to safely remove him from the trap and perform a physical exam and radiographs.

The radiograph and physical exam revealed the raccoon had been shot five times. Again, the injuries were too severe and the only option was humane euthanasia.

To say hospital staff was disheartened after witnessing the suffering and cruelty these animals endured would be a gross understatement. While hospital staff have decades of experience, and have seen more cruelty and suffering than anyone should have to see, the disregard for these animals and the stress, pain and suffering inflicted on them all because they were getting into a dumpster is beyond comprehension.

A radiograph taken of a raccoon admitted after being live trapped shows the raccoon had been shot.

Raccoons are prevalent in our area. The dumpsters in this community weren’t securely closed and therefore, provided a food source for the raccoons.

Access to food can cause a nuisance situation. Wild animals are driven by instinct and trying to survive in a world altered by humans. To ensure you aren’t creating a nuisance wildlife situation:

  • Keep dumpsters and trash bins securely shut.
  • Do not feed pets outdoors.
  • Keep grills locked up.
  • Pick up any ripe fruit that has fallen from trees. 

By providing information to the property management company, hospital staff hope actions will be taken within the community to educate residents and prevent this situation from occurring again. Education, understanding, tolerance, patience and empathy can go a long way to coexisting with wildlife.

Please, if you are experiencing a nuisance wildlife situation, call the wildlife hospital for information at 239-262-2273. We may be able to provide long-term, humane solutions that will resolve negative interactions with wildlife. Shooting and trapping should not be the first course of action taken for situations such as this.

Recent Releases

Seven royal terns, a common barn owl, a red rat snake, a peninsula cooter, a laughing gull were released this past week. The consistent rain and colder temperatures make finding an optimal window for releasing wildlife challenging.

Opportunities to Help

Please visit the Conservancy website to view all of the amazing volunteer opportunities at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. Your volunteer time, donations, and memberships are vital in helping us continue our work to protect Southwest Florida’s water, land, wildlife and future.

Joanna Fitzgerald is the Director of the von Arx Wildlife Hospital at the Conservancy of Southwest Florida, 1495 Smith Preserve Way, Naples, Florida 34102. Call 239-262-2273 or see