Wildlife agencies inundated with animals sick from red tide

Sarasota County

Wildlife rescue agencies are struggling during this red tide crisis. They’ve been inundated by the number of sick animals and they desperately need the public’s help.

At the Wildlife Center of Venice, Pamela Defouw and her staff haven’t had a break. 

“We get I would say about 35 to 40 a week,” said Defouw.

Birds get affected by red tide by eating fish. The toxin then causes them to become lethargic and wobbly, almost like they’re intoxicated.

“Some of them with the more severe cases have the inability to stand,” said Defouw.

Many don’t survive.

“It’s hard. It’s hard to watch them go through that,” said Defouw.

It takes weeks to treat and rehabilitate these animals. For one bird, the costs can exceed $400. It’s putting quite a strain on this non-profit.

“Its definitely unprecedented, we haven’t seen this before,” said volunteer Mark Martell.

The birds come from Anna Maria Island to as far south as Boca Grande. Martell frequently goes out to the beach to look for sick birds himself.

“We’re having trouble even finding flocks of birds because there’s so little food for them to eat,’ said Martell.

The Wildlife Center of Venice is not alone. All over the region, rescue organizations are swamped with sick animals. Even Mote Marine Lab has been publicly asking for donations.

Defouw wants the public to remember there are many victims in this red tide crisis.

“I’m hoping that the red tide starts to subside and we see an end in sight,” said Defouw.

The Wildlife Center of Venice is in need of blankets, sheets, medical supplies and of course, monetary donations.

These red tide treatments are expensive. If you’d like to help, here are some local wildlife organizations:

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