What to do if you find dead wildlife

Finding deceased wildlife can be very upsetting and there is usually a desire for the body to be removed as soon as possible to save further distress, especially to children. Wildlife Rescue organisations do not generally have the resources to act on reports of dead animals though one exception may be where there’s reason to believe that babies have been left orphaned.

There are two basic stages to consider. The first is reporting – some organisations monitor wildlife deaths in order to track incidences of disease, for example. The second is disposal – who to contact to get the body removed. In a few cases, where there is suspicion of certain diseases, the monitoring organisations may also help with removal.

Please always wear gloves and wash your hands thoroughly after handling any deceased wildlife.

Reporting #

Waterfowl, Gulls or Birds of Prey

DEFRA may have an interest here, due to their work in monitoring avian flu. The first step should be to call them on 03459 33 55 77. They may also like to hear about groups of other dead birds for disease monitoring purposes.

Garden Wildlife

The Garden Wildlife Health Project appreciates reports of deceased garden birds, hedgehogs etc, though they may not be able to collect the bodies for you.

Badgers

Your local Badger Group is likely to appreciate reports of dead badgers as these help them to get a picture of where badgers live in their area. During breeding season they may also wish to check the animal for signs of nursing.

Bats

The Bat Conservation Trust are involved in a programme to monitor disease in UK bat populations and may send you a kit for submitting the body to a laboratory.

Otters

Dead otters can be reported to the Otter Project on 0300 065 3000 (Wales), 0370 8506 506 (England), or 01471 822 847 (Scotland).

Marine Wildlife

Report deceased Whales, Dolphins, Porpoises, Turtles and Basking Sharks to the Cetacean Strandings Investigation Programme.

Suspected Poisonings

Please report to the Wildlife Incident Investigation Scheme (0800 321 600).

Disposal #

If the animal is on public land such as roadways and parks then your local council is responsible for removing the body.

If the animal is on your land then the responsibility is yours to arrange disposal.

  • for small prey animals such as garden birds, pigeons, amphibians and rabbits, as long as there is no suspicion of poisoning, you could choose to leave the body somewhere for predators to find. This might sound unpleasant, but we think it’s much better that the passing of an animal can be of some benefit to the ecosystem and help support other wildlife. We suggest placing the body under a bush in a secluded spot away from roads and anywhere others might see and be upset. Alternatively, you can ‘double-bag’ the body in sturdy plastic bags and put it into your household waste.
  • for larger animals or where there is any suspicion of poisoning, professional disposal through an environmental services company is required.
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Updated on May 6, 2024
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