What is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
Code of Ethics
A wildlife rehabilitator should strive to achieve high standards of animal care through knowledge and an understanding of the field. Continuing efforts must be made to keep informed of current rehabilitation information, methods, and regulations.
A wildlife rehabilitator should be responsible, conscientious, and dedicated, and should continuously work toward improving the quality of care given to wild animals undergoing rehabilitation.
A wildlife rehabilitator must abide by local, state, provincial and federal laws concerning wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation and associated activities.
A wildlife rehabilitator should establish safe work habits and conditions, abiding by current health and safety practices at all times.
A wildlife rehabilitator should acknowledge limitations and enlist the assistance of a veterinarian or other trained professional when appropriate.
A wildlife rehabilitator should respect other rehabilitators and persons in related fields, sharing skills and knowledge in the spirit of cooperation for the welfare of animals.
A wildlife rehabilitator should place optimum animal care above personal gain.
A wildlife rehabilitator should strive to provide professional and humane care in all phases of wildlife rehabilitation, respecting the wildness and maintaining the dignity of each animal in life and in death. Releasable animals should be maintained in a wild condition and released as soon as appropriate. Non–releasable animals, which are inappropriate for education, foster–parenting, or captive breeding have a right to euthanasia.
A wildlife rehabilitator should encourage community support and involvement through volunteer training and public education. The common goal should be to promote a responsible concern for living beings and the welfare of the environment.
A wildlife rehabilitator should work on the basis of sound ecological principles, incorporating appropriate conservation ethics and an attitude of stewardship.
A wildlife rehabilitator should conduct all business and activities in a professional manner, with honesty, integrity, compassion, and commitment, realizing that an individual's conduct reflects on the entire field of wildlife rehabilitation.
Our friends at Wild Things Sanctuary in Ithaca, NY provide an in-depth look at wildlife rehabilitation in their Winter 2010 Newsletter.
Below are links to articles regarding the importance of wildlife rehabilitation.
The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to provide professional care to sick, injured, and orphaned wild animals so ultimately they can be returned to their natural habitat. Wild animals that sustain injuries or illnesses preventing them from living successfully in the wild usually are euthanized (have their suffering ended in a humane fashion). Occasionally, individual animals that have recovered from their injuries but are not able to survive in the wild are placed in educational facilities.
Wildlife rehabilitation is not an attempt to turn wild animals into pets. Patients are held in captivity only until able to live independently in the wild. Fear of humans is a necessary survival trait for wild animals and every effort is made to minimize human contact and prevent the taming of rehabilitation patients. Often wildlife rehabilitation is an elaborate and time-consuming process.
Wildlife rehabilitators work with veterinarians to assess injuries and diagnose a variety of illnesses. Due to the important differences between wild animals and domestic animals, rehabilitators need extensive knowledge about the species in care, including natural history, nutritional requirements, behavioral issues, and caging considerations. They also need to understand any dangers the animals may present to rehabilitators. Rehabilitators must also be able to administer basic first aid and physical therapy, and understand any dangers the animals may present to rehabilitators.
Almost all birds are protected by federal law; state laws protect most other kinds of wildlife. To work with mammals, reptiles, and amphibians, wildlife rehabilitators must be issued special permits from their state wildlife agencies. Before receiving these permits, individuals must meet various requirements such as specialized training, participation in mentorship programs, facility inspections, and written or oral exams. Rehabilitators who wish to care for birds also must get permits from the US Fish & Wildlife Service. Once they receive the permits, conscientious rehabilitators continue their education by attending conferences, seminars, and workshops, keeping up with published literature, and networking with others in the field.
Because of their training, wildlife rehabilitators can help concerned people decide whether an animal truly needs help. Young birds and mammals should be returned to their families if at all possible; even well trained rehabilitators are not equivalent replacements for biological parents. Rehabilitators can provide instructions on how to reunite wildlife families, keeping the safety of the animals and the rescuers in mind, and they can suggest humane, long-term solutions when conflicts arise between humans and their wild neighbors.
Source: www.nwrawildlife.org, accessed: August 16, 2013
The public is often not aware of the benefits of wildlife rehabilitation, including the public services that wildlife rehabilitators provide free of charge. More often, the public does not realize that there are no government agencies that include rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife in their activities.
Wildlife rehabilitators in most states are not permitted to handle nuisance wildlife conflicts, but can provide the public with humane companies that can assist with these issues.
Wildlife rehabilitators are licensed by state natural resources/environmental conservation agencies, providing assurance to the wary public.
Local rehabilitation facilities do not decrease public safety; in fact, rehabilitation enhances public safety.
Wildlife Rehabilitation in America
Developed by the National Urban Wildlife Coalition
Have you ever thought about rehabilitating wildlife?
Do you wonder if it's right for you?
Check out this Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation Video, brought to you by Red Creek Wildlife Center in Pennsylvania.
While the video is specific to PA, a lot of information is valid in NY as well.
Why we don't "just let nature take its course"?
As wildlife rehabilitators, we are frequently asked why we are interfering with nature. The first and most obvious answer, in our opinion, is that the majority of animals that come into rehabilitation (up to 80%) are injured or orphaned as a direct result of human activity – accidentally or purposefully.
Below is a link to a short article that we wrote after our first season rehabilitating. Looking back, we realize now that wildlife rehabilitation is even more important than we initially thought.
Wildlife rehabilitators do more than just care for wildlife. Rehabilitators, with the help of Veterinarians, are unpaid volunteers who provide public services that are not (contrary to popular opinion) provided by local police, fire departments, animal control officers or any other local or state government agency.
Some of the services that Wildlife Rehabilitators provide include:
The article below is an example of the many ways in which wildlife rehabilitators work to protect their communities by providing educational information; in this case, preventing canine distemper among pets.
Please support your local wildlife rehabilitators!
A copy Into the Wild, Inc.'s latest annual report may be obtained by request in writing to Into the Wild, Inc. PO Box 5103, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 or from the New York State Attorney General’s Charities Bureau, 120 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, New York 10271.
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