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Wildlife International

Before applying for your own permit, it is strongly recommended that you take introductory wildlife rehabilitation training courses, and get hands-on experience as a volunteer working with practicing rehabilitators. Your wildlife rehabilitation training and hands-on experience with animals will insure the welfare of animals in your care.

In most countries, wild animals are protected by federal laws. Some of these laws exist in part so that governments can enforce international treaties (e.g. CITES). In many countries, wild species are also protected by state or provincial laws. Wildlife protection laws usually include sections that pertain to the capture, possession, holding and rehabilitation of wildlife.

Do rehabilitators require permission from their governments?

In most countries, a wildlife rehabilitator requires a permit or licence. Often, two permits are required: a state or provincial permit and a federal government permit. Generally, where there are two levels of government, the federal government would be responsible for migratory birds and all wildlife species that are classified as endangered or threatened. State or provincial governments would be responsible for the native wildlife in the state or province (e.g. mammals, herpetiles, non-migratory species and wildlife that are classified as threatened or endangered in the province or state).

In some cases, governments issue individual licenses or permits. In other cases, governments issue blanket or umbrella permits to a centre or facility, and the rehabilitators working there are covered by the permits of the centre or facility.

Are there special requirements?

For the most part, government agencies require some proof of proficiency or ability. For example, in Canada the individual applying for a Migratory Bird permit must demonstrate that he/she has the knowledge, skills and facilities needed to ensure adequate care. An assessment of the applicant and facilities is done at the time of the application and may include a site inspection. The Canadian Wildlife Service requires that the rehabilitation facilities meet standards and requirements, and it is necessary to have the support and services of a veterinarian. The permittee is expected to document cases and submit reports.

In Canada, provincial laws are similar. In the U.S., state laws can vary significantly. In a few states, it has not been necessary to have a permit to rehabilitate wildlife other than a federal permit for migratory birds or endangered species. In other states, there are very specific criteria for rehabilitation permits.

For example, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has different classifications of permit; before applying, the individual is counselled to take introductory training courses and to apprentice with practicing rehabilitators.

Permits are issued for Novice Class (may not possess any endangered or threatened birds or animals, or hawks, eagles, harriers, osprey, falcons or owls), General Class (requires a minimum of two years as a Novice Class permit holder), and Master Class (requires a minimum of four years as a General Class permit holder).

To renew a Wildlife Rehabilitation permit in Minnesota, rehabilitators must provide current records, proof of successful completion of continuing education and training, the name of a master class permittee who will serve as advisor and the name of a veterinary consultant. A facility inspection is required once during every other permit renewal period, or a change of facility location, or upon application for a higher level permit.

Are there standards of care?

In most cases, there are standards of care, but they vary from country to country and state to state. Many governments are now adapting the joint NWRA/IWRC Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation.

To learn more about the permits required by rehabilitators or centres in your country, province or state, contact your local government agency that is responsible for wildlife.

If you are not yet a wildlife rehabilitator and would like to know more about this discipline, click here.