About Wildlife Rehabilitation

Wildlife rehabilitation is a network of individuals and organizations caring for injured, sick and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing these animals back into their natural habitat.  Wildlife rehabilitators have demonstrated a proficient knowledge of wildlife by passing both written and oral examinations, have met certain housing standards for species they are permitted to treat, attend continuing education classes and work with a licensed veterinarian.

Through rehabilitation, an animal is given the benefits of proper nutrition and husbandry as well as modern medical care including fluid and drug therapy, diagnostics, x-ray and surgery.  For animals that cannot survive in the wild, or who are beyond the ability to recover, rehabilitation offers a painless end to their suffering.

Individuals who unlawfully possess wildlife not only endanger the health and well-being of that animal, but also are risking their own health, as well as the health of their family and pets. In addition to the physical injury a wild animal can inflict, wildlife carry diseases and parasites that can infect humans and domestic animals. Furthermore, animals that have been humanized pose a great threat to the people they encounter as well as to themselves.

By offering an alternative, wildlife rehabilitation is also a public service which provides the public with a humane, legal way of dealing with the wildlife in need that they encounter. The person who finds and rescues a wild animal is the first step in the process of returning an animal to its natural habitat, as well as in protecting the public health. From the moment you pick up an animal in distress, you become part of that network of individuals whose purpose is giving that animal a second chance at life.

From "Rescuing Wildlife: A Guide to Helping Injured and Orphaned Animals"
by permission of author


More Information

Wildlife rehabilitation is a system of caring for injured, sick, and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing these animals back into their natural habitat.

Wildlife rehabilitation is also a public service, providing the public with a humane, legal way of dealing with wildlife in need that they encounter.

What Does A Rehabilitator Do?

Most of the time is spent feeding animals and cleaning their cages. 

Orphaned Wildlife:  Orphaned baby birds need constant feeding and cleaning throughout the day. Baby mammals need to be fed every few hours around the clock. Special attention is given to monitoring their growth, feeding and nutritional requirements, temperature, and humidity. All of this must be done with minimal handling so the animal doesn't become attached to people, remembering that the ultimate goal is releasing that animal back to the wild.

Injured and Sick Wildlife:  Rehabilitators work closely with the veterinarians in diagnosing injury and illness and developing a program of intensive care, medication, feeding, exercise, physical therapy, and pre-release conditioning tailored for the animal.

Public Education: One of the most important tasks as a Rehabilitator is educating the people who call you for information or help.  Many people find animals and immediately assume the animal is in trouble.  The Rehabilitator listens carefully and asks questions to determine if that animal is truly in need.  If it is not, it is the Rehabilitator who instructs the person how to put the animal back and why it is important to do so.  If the animal does need help, the Rehabilitator instructs the finder on how to properly contain and transport the animal to him/her..

Public Outreach: Many Rehabilitators give programs to schools and other organizations to educate the public. 


"There can be no purpose more inspiriting than to begin the age of restoration, reweaving the wondrous diversity of life that still surrounds us."
~~Edward O. Wilson