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Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission
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March 13, 2024

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Wildlife is more active in spring

With many wildlife species becoming more active this time of year, the Florida Fish and Wildlife
Conservation Commission (FWC) is sharing ways that residents and visitors can help conserve
our native species while also preventing potential conflicts.

Several species of wildlife become more active in the springtime for important needs such as
migration, breeding, feeding and nesting. This increased natural activity often results in people
being more likely to encounter our wildlife while enjoying the outdoors. To avoid disrupting
important natural behavior and to prevent conflicts with native species, following some simple
tips will help conserve our state’s wildlife during spring and beyond:

Injured and Orphaned Wildlife – Generally, if you find a young animal, such as a fawn or
fledgling, it is best to leave it alone. Young animals are rarely orphaned; a parent may be nearby
searching for food. You can report common wildlife you think could be injured or orphaned to a
licensed wildlife rehabilitator. For further guidance, you can contact the nearest FWC Regional

Nesting Waterbirds – Shorebirds, sea birds and wading birds start nesting this time of year
and you can help by keeping your distance while on the beach or on the water. If birds become
agitated or leave their nests, you are too close. When on the beach, keep an eye out for and a-
void shorebird eggs and chicks, which are well-camouflaged in shallow nests in the sand and
shells. Wading birds, such as herons and egrets, and pelicans also are nesting now on man-
groves and tree islands.

Bats – Bat maternity season, the time when bats start to give birth and raise their young, runs
from April 16 through Aug. 14. During bat maternity season it is illegal to block bats from their
roosts. If bats are excluded during maternity season, flightless baby bats could be trapped inside
structures. April 15 is the last day to legally exclude bats from your home or building without a
permit. This is the time to do final spring checks of your home for any entry points, ensure that
no bats are present and make any necessary repairs. If bats are found, take steps to properly in-
stall a bat exclusion device before bat maternity season begins. Exclusion devices, which allow
bats to exit a structure but block them from returning to roosts, are the only legal and appropriate
method to remove bats from your home or building.

Sea Turtles – These large marine turtles start nesting on Florida beaches in spring. You can help
by keeping beaches dark at night and free of obstacles during their March through October nesting
season. Artificial lighting can disturb nesting sea turtles and disorient hatchlings, so avoid using
flashlights or cellphones on the beach at night. Turn out lights or close curtains and shades in build-
ings along the beach after dark to ensure nesting turtles aren’t disturbed. Clear away beach gear at
the end of the day and fill in holes dug in the sand that could entrap turtles.

Manatees – As manatees leave their winter habitats and travel the waterways along the Atlantic
and Gulf coasts and other inland waters, chances of close encounters between manatees and
boaters increase. Go slow and look out below for manatees when boating or using personal water-
craft. For boaters and personal watercraft users, it is a critical time to be on the lookout for manatees
to avoid collisions with these large aquatic mammals. Boaters should follow posted speed limits as
many areas have seasonal zones in spring that reflect manatee migration patterns.

Bears – As spring temperatures warm, bears become more active. During this time of year, females
are teaching their cubs what to eat and the skills necessary to survive. To help prevent conflicts and
make sure that eating garbage, pet food or bird seed in your yard is not part of that learning experience,
remove or secure attractants around your property. If bears can’t find food sources in your yard or
neighborhood, they will move on.

Gopher Tortoises – Florida’s only native tortoise becomes more active this time of year, foraging
for food and searching for a mate. If you see gopher tortoises or their half-moon shaped burrow
entrances, it is best to leave them alone. Spotted a gopher tortoise crossing a road? If it is safe to do
so, you may move it out of the road in the direction it was heading (but don’t put the tortoise in your
vehicle). Remember the tortoise is a land animal that can’t swim, so never attempt to put it into water.

Snakes – Keep an eye out for our native snakes in your yard or when hiking, as they could be
encountered more as the weather warms. What should you do if you come upon a native snake?
Just give it space, as snakes usually try to avoid encounters.

Wildlife and Roads – With increased wildlife activity, keep an eye out for animals crossing road-
ways, including larger species such as Florida panthers, bears and deer. Slowing down and obeying
all posted speed limits, particularly in panther zones and areas with road signage identifying known
wildlife crossings, helps keep you, other motorists and wildlife safe. Interested in other ways to help
Florida panthers? Consider supporting conservation of the species by purchasing the new “Protect the
Panther” license plate. Fees from license plate sales are the primary funding source for the FWC’s re-
search and management of Florida panthers. 

For more information on wildlife in Spring, visit and click on “Spring Wildlife News.”

If you witness someone committing a wildlife violation, please contact the FWC’s Wildlife Alert Hotline:
888-404-FWCC (3922) or text 847411 (Tip411) with keyword “FWC” and information about the violation.

fawn in foliage

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QUESTIONS? Contact the FWC

Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission ·
620 S. Meridian Street ·
Tallahassee, FL 32399-1600 ·
(850) 488-4676 GovDelivery logo
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