top of page
ECWR Rehabilitation

Permits & Restrictions and ECWR's Medical Facility

Permits & Restrictions

As a permitted wildlife refuge, there are many legal restrictions and guidelines that we must follow. Animals must meet the guidelines below for ECWR to legally be allowed to treat them. When unique situations arise where we are legally unable to help, we may be able to direct concerned citizens to other organizations. ECWR does not endorse, and is not endorsed, by any of the following organizational recommendations.

1. Animal must be a Native Florida species.

As a Florida wildlife refuge, our goal is to help aid native Florida species by helping population statistics, and balancing ecosystem niches. This does include migratory bird species. Check out the Florida Fish & Wildlife Species List.

We cannot accept bears, alligators, or bald eagles. For questions, please call our wildlife hotline at (850)684-1485.

2. Animal must have originated within Florida state lines.

While the person finding the animal can be from out of Florida (i.e. tourism), the animal itself must be found living within Florida state lines. We are unable to accept animals outside of Florida, no matter the distance, including animals from Louisiana, Alabama, and Georgia.

3. Animal can not be an exotic, domesticated, game, or livestock species.

We are unable to accept exotic pet species (ferrets, parrots, etc.), domesticated species (cats, dogs, rabbits, etc.), or avian game species (turkeys).

4. Animal can not be a nuisance animal.

We do not and cannot respond to nuisance animals (i.e. raccoons in attics, squirrels in rooms, etc.). The relocation of nuisance animals requires a permit that ECWR does not hold.

Please be aware that many nuisance wildlife companies charge for removal.

Copy of Pelican 1.jpg

ECWR Rehabilitation


Medical Center

Our Medical Center is open daily for animal drop-offs from 8am - 4pm and is staffed by , volunteer, interns, and staff. The medical center is not able to be viewed or visited by the public and is not included with admission into our Education Center.

Our goal is to return these animals to the wild, which means we must limit their human contact to only what is necessary.  At the same time, we must abide by Florida and federal regulations about how the public can or can not be involved with wildlife undergoing rehabilitation. 

Inside Our Facility


Our location for smaller injured mammals, birds, and reptiles.


The neonatal intensive care unit - all young orphans receive supportive heat and regular formula feedings in this room.


Larger mammals that are no longer on formula or close to being weaned off. They are now introduced to solid food and more active mobility.


The dedicated location for raising orphaned songbirds.


Our intensive care unit for injured adult mammals, birds, and reptiles.


Patients with contagious diseases are kept separate from the rest of the rehabilitation program to prevent transmission.

Radiology Suite

Thanks to Sunday's Child, ECWR now has an x-ray machine to discover fractures, hooks, ammunition, and more in patients.

Necropsy Suite

Used only for necropsies, data collection, and sample collection of deceased marine mammals and sea turtles.


The center of our Medical Center, it carries the most important burden, feeding all of our wildlife patients and Animal Ambassadors.


All bedding used at ECWR is washed, and leads to constant shaking, washing, drying, and folding of laundry.

More Details

Intake Unit

The intake unit is where all of our patients start when they come in. Each patient is examined by our wildlife techs and prescribed a treatment plan. Smaller patients still in need of an intensive care unit are also assigned here.

Frequent injuries in this unit are:

- Crushed turtles from car collisions

- Head trauma patients

- Animals with fractured bones


Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

In confirmed cases of mother abandonment or absence, orphaned mammals are admitted into our NICU.

In the NICU, young orphans receive supportive heat and regular formula feedings.

 Some species we see include Eastern Gray Squirrels, Virginia Opossums, Raccoons, Eastern Cottontails, and more!

During our baby seasons, we have lots of hungry mouths to feed! We always appreciate formula donations!


Eastern Grey Squirrel Formula.png


Red Fox Formula.png

Red Fox  & Virginia Opossum Formula

Eastern Cottontail Formula.png



Larger and more active juveniles spend their transition period here before moving to an outdoor habitat. These patients are now off supplemental heat and are given a mixture of formula and introductory solid foods.

Nursery specific care includes:

- Enrichment activities to aid in mental stimulation

- Introduction of 'natural' aspects, such as sticks or logs to learn climbing abilities

- Preparation for "outdoor living" with larger enclosures for more activities and movements

Bird room.jpg


Hatchling birds in our incubators need to be fed every 30 minutes! Combined with fledgling feedings in soft-sided aviaries every hour, the bird room is a busy place!

If you, or someone you know, knits or crochets, we are always accepting donations of knitted or crocheted soft side bird's nest! Nests are rotated out and washed often, so the more the merrier. ECWR does not currently have a pattern to distribute, but there are lots of great examples online!

Intensive Care Unit

Adult mammals or birds recovering from a variety of intense medical procedures or injuries may spend a short amount of time in this unit as their prescription medications are completed, or until they can tolerate a larger habitat or increased activity levels.

We use a variety of medications to help treat our wildlife patients, but here are some everyday items that can be donated for us to help provide medical care to our animals: tongue depressors, gauze sponges, isopropyl alcohol, Dawn dish soap (for flea baths), nitrile gloves (medium & large sizes), and antibacterial hand soap.


Isolation Unit

Animals potentially affected by spreadable diseases or parasites are isolated for treatment to prevent contamination to other rehabilitation patients.

Reasons for isolation include:

- Bacterial Diseases

- Fungal Diseases

- Viral Diseases

- External Parasites

- Internal Parasites

*ECWR does not currently have any photos of patients in the Isolation Unit. This is a group of juvenile raccoons in their outdoor habitat.

Radiology Suite

Many of our patients require a closer internal look, and thanks to a grant from Sunday's Child, we are able to do x-ray's in house. From broken legs to swallowed knives, our radiology suite allows us to diagnose and treat our patients to the highest extent.

Can you spot what doesn't belong in this shorebird x-ray?


Necropsy Suite

ECWR's Marine Mammal Stranding team has provided marine mammal response for the western Florida panhandle since 1994. Led by a Stranding Coordinator and Veterinarian, our refuge staff and Stranding Team volunteers respond to marine mammals and sea turtles year-round. We are authorized by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to respond to these federally protected animals as a member of the national marine mammal stranding network.

The Necropsy Suite is only used for necropsies (non-human autopsies), data collection, and sample collection.

To learn more about our Marine Mammal Stranding Team, click the button below.

The Kitchen

From every patient to ambassador, every animal's diet is made in our kitchen. Every day! During busy season, we have a lot of hungry mouths to feed.

Our 4 refrigerators keep the proteins and the produce nice and cold to provide a nutritional boost to animals in need during their next meal.

Are you interested in helping us feed our hungry patients? Check out the "Animal Food" section on the donation list below. For meat and fish donations, please call us first! We will let you know if we can use what you have to donate!


The Laundry Room

All bedding in both our outdoor and indoor enclosures (for both rehabilitation patients and our permanent resident ambassadors) are stocked with donated fabrics, from the blankets for the baby squirrels to a hammock for Rose. With daily enclosure cleanings, this leads to a never-ending pile of sometimes very filthy laundry. Which, in turn, means we go through lots of laundry supplies.

With two washing machines and two dryers, our laundry room is a busy and necessary place that we could not function without. Donations towards our laundry room are greatly appreciated. (Please note that if you want to donate laundry supplies, we do not use fabric softener or dryer sheets, but do use massive amounts of laundry detergent and bleach!)

bottom of page