Gulf Islands National Seashore is home to an abundance of wildlife, including threatened and endangered species, marine animals, bears, bats and a wide variety of reptiles such as snakes and alligators. It is illegal to feed, take, capture, or kill; attempt to take, capture or kill; possess, transport, or carry wildlife, parts, nests or eggs without proper permits or authorizations. Wildlife should be respected and never touched or approached.
Wild animals can carry a variety of contagious diseases that can be transmitted to humans even if the animal is dead. Generally, the best thing to do is leave the animal alone. This protects both the individual and the animal.
Most wildlife at GUIS is harmless if left alone, even animals such as alligators, bears and venomous snake species are not particularly dangerous unless provoked, stepped on or otherwise harassed. Due to low likelihood of capture, snakes that are not in interior structures or maintain the ability to move will not be handled by National Park Service staff.
Hazardous animals include any animal that has the immediate potential to harm park staff and visitors, including the ability to transmit disease or cause bodily harm to humans. Often these animals do not fear humans, have been habituated to or fed by humans, or may be exhibiting symptoms of rabies or other contagious disease. All hazardous animals threatening human life and safety should be reported to the park so that the individual animal can be assessed.
If it is a true emergency and/or someone is being harmed or attacked, 911 should be contacted immediately.
GUIS is not equipped to take in or care for injured or orphaned wildlife and it is illegal to bring any wildlife to the park or remove wildlife from the park. The goal is to maintain ecological processes and though it might be difficult, naturally occurring animal deaths are one of those processes. Common species that are injured, sick or dying from natural causes are not taken to rehabilitation facilities and natural processes should be allowed to occur.
Park staff will respond if wildlife of a species of special concern (marine mammal, sea turtle, gopher tortoise, least tern, osprey, black skimmer, or plovers (snowy, Wilson’s or piping)), if the injury is related to human-induced impacts, or if deaths appear in large numbers. Due to low likelihood of capture, park staff will not respond to reports of injured birds that maintain the ability to fly. Loons and gannets commonly found resting ashore are not in need of response.
Additionally, under no circumstance should a hatchling, chick or other baby animal be removed from the wild. When finding a baby animal it is best to leave it alone. Often the animal is not orphaned, and the parent may be out getting food, or watching the baby from a distance. Never pick up baby animals and remove them from their natural environment. Park visitors should not bring animals into park facilities or visitor centers. Approaching or attempting to rescue wildlife that appears to need help, could put the individual or the animal in jeopardy.
Reporting Hazardous or Injured Wildlife
If the animal is within the boundaries of Gulf Islands National Seashore, please call the park's Wildlife Reporting Line: 850-916-5636
If the animal is outside of the Gulf Islands National Seashore boundary or a live sea turtle or marine mammal needs immediate attention, please call:
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s
Note: the Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida does not respond to or transport wildlife to their facility. They can, however, provide instructions on how to provide triage care for the animal and directions if they have available space to receive the animal (caller must transport animal). This facility is the State-licensed rehabilitation center in this region.
Wildlife Alert 24-hour Hotline
Wildlife Sanctuary of Northwest Florida
105 North ″S″ Street
Pensacola, FL 32505
Mississippi Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Stranding Hotline
Wildlife Care and Rescue Center, Inc.