What should I do if I find a dead animal?

Unfortunately, animals are found dead in a variety of circumstances that range from hitting windows or cars to death by disease. If it is safe to do so, you may want to consider contributing to science. The Museum welcomes donations of such specimens, especially those that are fairly fresh, because they can provide valuable additions to the collections. Any person who handles a dead animal should be aware of potential health hazards. If a person picks up a dead animal (amphibian, reptile, fish, bird, or mammal), they should contact a MVZ Curator to see whether the Museum is interested in the specimen and to make arrangements for donating the carcass.

If you would like to donate an animal carcass, please read and carefully follow the instructions on the Salvage Animal form.


Who is in charge of dead animals?

All wildlife is regulated by a combination of state and federal agencies. In California, the main regulation agencies are the California Department of Fish and Game and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. While the regulations differ according to taxonomic group, species, and status (e.g., threatened/endangered), it is generally illegal to live-trap, collect, or salvage wildlife without a permit. However, the MVZ maintains permits that allow donations of lawfully acquired wildlife, including specimens that are found dead, for scientific and educational purposes.

Donated carcasses are made into research specimens and are often material used in our MVZ Undergraduate Program for education in vertebrate anatomy, evolution, and diversity. Your donation helps train future field biologists, veterinarians, and other scientists. To help support this program, you may want to consider a monetary donation to “Friends of the MVZ.”