Mother raccoon captured, later euthanized due to leg injury

Ann Hall
The mother raccoon was photographed stuck in the broken bottle in an Isles of Capri backyard.

Wildlife lovers were elated this morning, as the mother raccoon that had stuck her right foot in a beer bottle on the Isles of Capri was captured by the Beau Middlebrook family and rushed to a local wildlife hospital.

But the story has a sad ending. Because the raccoon’s leg was so badly injured, she had to be euthanized after being examined at the hospital.

A welcome email arrived on the Coconut Tele, Isles of Capri’s community email network early this morning, Nov. 19.

“Goooooood Morning Ann! Persistence paid off! We caught the mama! Jodi Fernandez, being the angel she is, picked her up this morning and is in route to the animal hospital. If all goes according to plan, they will take the bottle off today, and we should be able to bring her back and release her later this afternoon,” wrote Beau Middlebrook.

The Middlebrooks had been trying diligently to come to the aid of a mother raccoon and her three little ones seen in their backyard for the better part of a month. The mother had stuck her right front leg into a beer bottle, and seemingly tried to free herself by hitting it against something. The bottle broke and then became a weapon stuck on her leg that could have injured her as well as her three babies.

“They could be cut,” said. Evelim Middlebrook. Evelim was especially worried, fearing the mother may still have been nursing her young.

Three of the mother racoon’s young were photographed watching from a nearby tree.

Then, a second email came in later Thursday morning, bearing bad news.

“Ann, I have a heavy heart as I give you an update on the raccoon with the bottle stuck on its leg. Beau and Evelim finally caught her last night and I brought her to the Conservancy's von Arx Wildlife Hospital this morning when they opened,” wrote Jodi Fernandez, who helped transport the raccoon.

“After sedating her and breaking the bottle off her right front leg it was obvious even to me that the outcome wasn't going to be good,” said Fernandez. “Her entire leg was dead from the neck of the bottle constricting the blood flow. I took photos but I know most people wouldn't want to see how horrible it looked. Amputation wasn't an option for its survival so humane euthanasia was the only option for this beautiful girl.

“The Middlebrooks and I are extremely sad, and I know that Cindy, who provided the trap, will feel the same when I break the news to her,” said Fernandez. “If only people would make sure their trash was put in a garbage pail and not thrown out a car window as we often see on Capri Boulevard.”

Jodi Fernandez, Capri resident and volunteer for the Conservancy of SW Florida Von Arx Wildlife Hospital, assists in the transport of the mama raccoon to the hospital to remove the glass from her leg.


Checking trap

Following instructions from the staff at the wildlife hospital, the Middlebrooks secured a trap on Nov. 10, bated it and then took turns watching and checking the trap every hour for the days that followed. As the Middlebrooks watched in vain, the mother continued to break more of the bottle away, and the nape of the bottle that was left wedged further and more tightly up her leg.

In the interim, several other raccoons entered the trap and had to be released.

“The trap definitely works, but we have not been able to catch the mom; we have seen her around, but she's a smart one,” Beau Middlebrook wrote.

This unfortunate incident has been a message that has been published loudly and clearly throughout the community asking residents to be sure that they secure their trash cans tightly to avoid having bottles and cans spill over and become hazards to the wildlife. In addition, neighbors have been consistently warned not to feed any wildlife, which is by the way against the law, or to leave pet food outside as it, too, attracts wildlife and encourages them to look to people as their food source.

“Even feeding birds attracts other wildlife that then becomes corrupted and becomes a nuisance animal,” said Ray Simonsen, Florida Fish and Wildlife nuisance alligator trapper.

The wildlife volunteers involved in the rescue say they hope that the mother’s young are now old enough to feed themselves.

To contact the Von Arx Wildlife Hospital, call 239-262-2273.

Contact Ann Hall at