Found a dead animal

What to do if you find a dead animal

© Ben Hall/2020VISION

Should you report a dead animal?

Occasionally, we all come across the sad sight of a dead animal. The Wildlife Trusts do not offer any services related to the discovery, reporting, or disposal of dead animals, but this page will help you know what to do if you find one.

Have you had a road accident involving an animal?

Under the Road Traffic Act, you must contact the police to report hitting the following animals with a road vehicle as soon as possible, whether they are dead or injured:

  • dogs
  • sheep
  • pigs
  • goats
  • cattle
  • donkeys or mules
  • horses

This must be done within 24 hours by law. 

Is the animal in a public space?

If you find a dead animal on the road, pavement, or in another open public space, you should tell your local council. This includes domestic pets and wild animals like badgers and foxes. A dead animal found on private property should be reported to the owner of the land.

What kind of animal is it?

Some animals should be reported for monitoring purposes. 

Bats: The Bat Conservation Trust encourages the submission of dead bats to a programme run by the Animal & Plant Health Agency that helps monitor UK bats for the spread of a European strain of rabies virus affecting bats. Call the BCT helpline (0345 1300 228) who will send you a kit.

Badgers: The Badger Trust collect reports of badger related incidents to aid prevention. If you are in Wales, dead badgers should be reported to the Wales Veterinary Science Centre, with the Ordnance Survey grid reference of the location if possible, and they will remove the carcass.

Birds: In the interests of monitoring and understanding the spread of avian influenza (bird flu), Defra ask that you report any dead waterfowl (swans, geese, ducks), gulls, or birds of prey you find. You should also report any other dead wild birds you find in numbers of five or more. You can contact them on the Defra helpline (03459 33 55 77). Do not touch or handle the dead bird if you can avoid it, but if you must, wash your hands thoroughly as soon as possible, keeping your hands away from your face and any food.

Garden animals: Report deaths of garden animals including reptiles, amphibians, birds, and hedgehogs to the Garden Wildlife Health project. The project relies on public reports to help monitor health and identify disease threats to British wildlife. 

Marine mammals: See our page on marine mammal strandings for what to do if you come across live and dead strandings of marine mammals.

Do you suspect wildlife crime?

If you suspect that the animal is a victim of a wildlife crime, contact the police or crimestoppers. You can find more information on what constitutes a wildlife crime here.

If you find an injured wild animal

If you come across an injured animal, or you see young nearby that may be orphaned, contact the RSPCA (SSPCA for Scotland, or the USPCA for Northern Ireland). Visit our other pages for more wildlife advice.