Wildlife experts concerned about animals that may be injured during Venice wildfires
VENICE, Fla. (WWSB) - A gopher tortoise rescued from the Carlton Reserve wildfire continues to struggle after suffering from smoke inhalation and severe burns.
“First and foremost, when we get him in we have to get that body temperature down,” said Pamela Defouw, executive director of The Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida. “Because the tortoise was very hot when he came in, pain meds, antibiotics and fluids.”
The Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida is helping to rehabilitate animals affected by wildfires or any other type of injury. Since there has been so much fire and smoke in this Venice brush fire, wildlife experts say that increases an animal’s chances of getting injured.
“It can be burns; smoke inhalation is just as bad for the animal as it is for us,” said Defouw. “It affects their respiratory system, it causes all kinds of internal problems as well as the degree burns they receive from being caught in the middle.”
Officials from Florida Forest Service say most animals do make it out of a wildfire in good shape. Some aren’t so lucky, suffering injuries or even death.
“Animals in wildfires, they are smarter than humans. They know exactly what to do,” said Logan Hatch, a Forest Ranger for Florida Forest Service. “They smell smoke, they get out of the area.”
Defouw says this type of fire can impact all types of animals in the reserve, from deer and raccoons to birds and tortoises and every other type of animal imaginable. Defouw is urging people to do their part if they come across an injured animal.
“If it’s not a mammal, if it’s a bird or a squirrel try to get a towel or something to wrap around them, to pick them up,” said DeFouw. “You don’t want to use your hands because the salt will hurt the potential burn and also infection is a huge concern.”
The Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida can be reached at 941-484-9657.
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