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If I find a dead wild animal?

You should report the dead garden wildlife to us at Garden Wildlife Health. These reports are critical in helping us to understand the disease threats to British wildlife, even if you are unable to submit a carcass. Do not handle sick or dead wild animals directly. If you need to move a dead wild animal, wear disposable gloves or a plastic bag over your hand, and wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards or if any contact was made with e.g. droppings, feathers or other material that has touched the carcass.
Veterinary approval is needed for carcass submission. During the reporting process you will be asked if you are willing to submit a body for post-mortem examination. Do not submit a carcass until you have received confirmation from the vets and have printed the unique submission label.


We are normally interested in receiving wild animal carcasses from the following species:


Garden Birds*

(*not including waterfowl,
wading birds, gulls, or birds of prey)



What to do if you find a dead wild bird:
You should report dead wild birds to the Defra website or the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77) if you find:
  • 1 or more dead bird of prey, gull, swan, goose or duck in the same place
  • 5 or more dead wild birds of any other species in the same place
Should you be concerned about bird flu (avian influenza), please contact the Defra Helpline (03459 33 55 77). Up-to-date information on avian influenza can be found at:
There are several other wild animal disease surveillance projects in Britain that solicit reports of wildlife mortality from members of the public, including:
Others species:
If you have an unusual wildlife disease incident to report please contact us and we may be able to provide further advice. Alternatively you should contact your local APHA post-mortem examination centre which can examine unusual mortality incidents in wildlife.

If I find a sick wild animal?

The Garden Wildlife Health vets are unable to treat sick or injured wild animals, however it is important that these cases are reported to us so we can build a picture of the issues affecting garden wildlife health throughout the country. You can do this by reporting incidents here.
If you find a sick or injured wild animal that is capable of avoiding threats (such as domestic animals and human beings) it may be in the best interests for this animal to be left alone. However, if you have doubts or the animal is not capable of fending for itself you should contact your local veterinary surgeon or animal rescue organisation (see below).
Organisations that can help with tending to an injured or sick wild animal:
You can find your local vet by using the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons’ search function. Vets are required to render veterinary care to relieve suffering in all species. They are entitled to seek payment for these services but this will vary between practices so we recommend that you call them in advance if possible. Do not expect every case to be treated in a similar manner to your pet. An ethical decision will be made in each individual case regarding the merit of pursuing veterinary treatment versus euthanasia. Wildlife have unique requirements for survival after treatment and are relatively intolerant of prolonged captivity (even for veterinary care). Please bear this in mind when asking your local vet for help.
The RSPCA (England and Wales) and the Scottish SPCA (Scotland) may provide veterinary care for wildlife casualties. Wild animal emergencies can be reported to the RSPCA on tel. 0300 1234 999, or the Scottish SPCA on tel. 03000 999 999.
The British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council maintains a list of rescue organisations sorted by county.

How do I dispose of a dead wild animal?

Information on disposal of wildlife carcasses can be found on the Defra website. Should you be unable to follow any of the recommended advice, please contact your local council.
Wild animals can carry several diseases that are infectious to people and domestic animals and some simple hygiene precautions will help minimise the risk of infection – please see guidelines below.
For garden wildlife (i.e. garden birds, hedgehogs, amphibians or reptiles), if it is not convenient to submit a carcass for examination, or the GWH team have confirmed that they are not able to examine the specimen on this occasion, you should consider disposal by burying it at an appropriate depth (>60cm) or by putting it in the outside household waste as per guidelines below.
When disposing of a small garden wildlife carcass (like a garden bird, hedgehog, amphibian or reptile) please follow the guidelines below:
  • Do not touch the carcass with your bare hands.
  • Wear disposable protective gloves (or a plastic bag over your hand – see below) when picking up and handling the carcass.
  • Place the carcass in a suitable plastic bag, preferably leak proof. Care should be taken that the carcass does not touch the outside of the bag.
  • Tie the bag and place it in a second, preferably leak proof, plastic bag.
  • Remove gloves by turning them inside out and then place them in the second plastic bag (take care not to touch the outside of the gloves with bare hands). Tie the bag and place in a crush proof container and dispose of in the normal outside household refuse or municipal waste bin.
  • Wash your hands and forearms thoroughly with soap and water after handling any wild animal carcass.
  • If disposable gloves are not available, a plastic bag can be used as a makeshift glove. When the carcass has been picked up, the bag can be turned back on itself and tied. It should then be placed in a second plastic bag, tied and disposed of in the normal outside household waste.
  • Alternatively, the dead animal can be buried, but not in a plastic bag. Dig a hole at least 60cm deep to stop animals digging it up. Do not bury it near any watercourses or in a place where it could contaminate local water supplies. Again, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water when you’ve finished.
  • Any clothing that has been in contact with the dead animal should be washed using ordinary washing detergent following the manufacturer’s recommendations.

If I am concerned about bird flu (avian influenza) in wild birds?

Up-to-date information on bird flu (avian influenza) is available on the Defra website:
Information on cases of avian influenza in wild birds in Great Britain is available at:
Further, information on mitigation strategies for avian influenza in wild birds in England and Wales can be found here: 
Reporting wild bird mortality
If you have seen the following, please report to Defra via their website ( or call their helpline on 03459 33 55 77:
  • 1 or more dead bird of prey, gull, swan, goose or duck in the same place
  • 5 or more dead wild birds of any other species in the same place
Do not handle sick or dead wild birds.


As part of our work on the Garden Wildlife Health project, we direct wild bird mortality reports that meet the above criteria to Defra, along with any reports we receive from within active influenza disease control zones.
We continue to conduct disease surveillance in garden birds (1-4 dead birds in the same place) through the Garden Wildlife Health project, and work in close collaboration with the Animal & Plant Health Agency (APHA) and Defra on a range of wildlife diseases.
Feeding garden birds
Defra advises that you can feed garden birds, but always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water afterwards. Avoid feeding in areas that have premises where poultry or captive birds are kept. Wild birds can spread bird flu to captive birds and vice versa.
If you feed garden birds, regular cleaning of feeders and water baths is recommended as routine – see information in our Garden Wildlife Health Feeding Garden Birds Best Practice Guidance. These precautions will help reduce disease spread between different birds.
The UK Health Security Agency has said that the risk to the public from this avian influenza strain is very low. It mainly affects birds.
Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water if you touch wild bird droppings or feathers. For more advice visit the NHS website.

How do I report a suspected wildlife crime?

Contact your local police on their non-emergency number and ask to speak to the wildlife crime officer.
The Partnership For Action Against Wildlife Crime (PAW) is an agency body made up of organisations involved in wildlife law enforcement. It’s sponsored by the Department for Food, Environment & Rural Affairs.
Wildlife crime publications by PAW

If I find a ringed bird?

Bird ringing in Europe is coordinated by Euring. If you find a ringed bird you should report it to them here.
Why report a ringed bird?