Inside the Conservancy Wildlife Clinic: Hit and run

— A 10-pound gopher tortoise, one of the largest admitted to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida Wildlife Rehabiliation Clinic, was among 31 animals admitted to the clinic in the past week.

Others included a pied-billed grebe, a redstart, a gray catbird, two blue jays, a gopher tortoise, a Florida box turtle, two eastern cottontails and two opossums.

Hit and Run

A gopher tortoise was hit by a car in southern Lee County.

The aftermath of impact from the car was devastating: a fractured carapace from head to tail and a large hole in the shell on the underside of the tortoise.

The membrane that surrounds the internal organs ruptured and the tortoise’s intestines were exposed.

Heartbreakingly, the tortoise did not die during the impact and continued to try and walk away, dragging her own intestines for several yards. A blood trail was left behind, which is how we know she was still mobile after the collision.

It is hard to believe someone didn’t notice a 10-pound turtle in the road, especially since the posted speed limit in this quiet area is 30 mph.

Please, if you hit an animal, keep your safety in mind, but show compassion and offer assistance. At the very least, call the Clinic to apprise us of the situation.

Nothing deserves to die the way that gopher tortoise did.


We received an unusual phone call from the British Virgin Islands this week.

A pelican with a severely fractured wing was found floating in the water near Tortola.

The folks who found the pelican were eager to help the bird but knew it would be difficult to find professional assistance. The nearest veterinarian was located on St. Thomas.

Staff offered our best advice for the injured pelican. Unfortunately it was a grim situation due to the severe trauma the bird had experienced.

The final resolution for this case is unknown.

A red shouldered hawk was admitted after it sustained serious head trauma when it flew into a window. The bird was unresponsive for several days.

The hawk is making a slow recovery. It is very alert and has begun to perch.

The man who rescued this bird was so kind and concerned. Meeting such caring individuals makes us all appreciate what the average person can do when motivated to make a difference.

Frequent Flyer

A mourning dove was rescued at the Naples Airport after being injured when it was caught up in the force of wind produced by an incoming plane.

A pilot noticed the injured bird and was kind enough to rescue the dove and bring it to the clinic.

It is amazing the bird survived the trauma caused by the plane.

Gone Home

It was a rewarding week due to a high number of releases.

Several migratory birds were returned to the wild to continue on their migration. A yellow-rumped warbler, a Swainson’s thrush, a rose-breasted grosbeak and a pine warbler were all released after they recovered from neurological damage caused by collisions with windows.

Two Florida box turtles and a gopher tortoise were released after an average two month stay at the clinic.

Currently we are still caring for 10 turtles and tortoises, all healing from various wounds caused by collisions with cars.

Five eastern cottontails were also released. All were brought in after suffering wounds from domestic pet attacks or after their nests were destroyed due to landscaping activities.

Please remember to keep pets indoors and always check yards, trees and bushes before mowing and trimming.

Visit the Conservancy Web site at to become a member. Memberships and donations are our primary source of funding.

© 2009 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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