The Mission of IWRC
Our Mission Promotes Wildlife Conservation
Providing science-based education and resources to wildlife rehabilitators and the public to promote wildlife conservation and welfare.
Our Educational Programs are Science Based
Traditional Classroom Training: Launched in 1984, IWRC’s Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course was the first of its kind. A combination of lecture and lab, the two-day class covered topics such as basic anatomy and physiology, handling and physical restraint, thermoregulation, stress, initial care and physical examination, nutrition and associated diseases, standards for housing, zoonoses, euthanasia criteria and release criteria.
Although the content has been updated a multitude of times, 25 years later the format and concept of the class remains the same. Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation has been delivered to wildlife rehabilitators in eleven countries including the United States, Canada, Guatemala, Honduras, Greece, Turkey, Mexico, Ireland, Poland, England, and South Africa. Today, the class is held 15 to 20 times a year in locations throughout the United States and Canada. Classes are scheduled by request, most frequently by rehabilitation centers, state and regional rehabilitation organizations, pre-vet clubs and natural resource agencies.
Online Training: In order to give more rehabilitators access to professional training, in 2005 IWRC developed a new distance education program. Taking advantage of emerging technologies, IWRC offers both live and on demand online courses, incorporating lectures, discussions, and web-based examinations.
Courses are developed by veterinarians, biologists, and seasoned wildlife rehabilitators specializing in different aspects of wildlife rehabilitation and medicine. Regardless of the delivery method (classroom or online), all IWRC training courses are developed and rigorously peer-reviewed by professionals who excel in their areas of expertise—veterinarians, biologists, rehabilitators, nutritionists, and scientists from related fields work together to bring wildlife rehabilitators the most current and reliable information available.
International Symposium: For over 30 years, IWRC’s annual symposium has been providing science based presentations from researchers worldwide. When the first conference was held in 1977, it was the first of its kind. Since then, as national, state and regional groups have formed and replicated the traditional conference format, the opportunity for this kind of learning has become increasingly accessible. Today the IWRC’s annual symposium continues to offer science and research based presentations, but has also added practical skills seminars.
Membership: If any field is defined by variety, it is wildlife rehabilitation. Rehabilitators, rescuers, veterinarians, technicians, administrators, researchers, educators, regulatory agents… the contributions of each are crucial to the success of the whole.
As wildlife rehabilitators attempt to learn as much as possible from many different disciplines, the opportunities that networking alone can provide is fundamental. IWRC’s conferences, symposia, Member Directory and the Animal Placement List provide a world of resources, and the opportunity to meet and consult with colleagues both near and far. Through the organizations diverse network, members have access to experts in various areas, unique insights on issues affecting wildlife, populations, species, and habitats.
Professional Certification: The field of wildlife rehabilitation is a fairly new vocation, the requirements for becoming a legal practitioner are in constant flux and they vary widely around the world. This challenges the credibility of the field and the work of wildlife rehabilitators.
In 2007, IWRC introduced the Certified Wildlife Rehabilitator (CWR) certificate program as part of their mission to raise the quality of care provided to wildlife in distress. Although certification is voluntary, receiving certification is an objective affirmation that a rehabilitator has met minimum knowledge standards. Certification shows permitting agency personnel, veterinarians, and members of the public, a rehabilitators’ commitment to professionalism and providing the highest quality care. IWRC serves as the certification body, administering the exam, but certification policies are managed by an independent board, the Certification Review Board.
Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation: As a membership benefit the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation is designed to provide useful information to wildlife rehabilitators and others involved in the care and treatment of native wild species, with the ultimate purpose of returning them to the wild.
The first issue was published in the winter of 1977. Within a few years of its inception, the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation received support from the Animal Protection Institute of Sacramento, California to improve and expand the publication, and by Volume 9, No. 3, the Journal’s feature articles were peer-reviewed. The Journal is a valued resource in the wildlife rehabilitation community, published online three times a year in full color.
Through the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation, IWRC works to disseminate information and improve the quality of care provided to wildlife.
Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation: In 1984 IWRC collaborated with the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) to develop and publish minimum care standards for rehabilitation work, Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation (MSWR). While captive-care literature existed for the zoo community, nothing existed for care and treatment of wild animals that were going to be released back into their native habitat.
A joint IWRC/NWRA committee oversees periodic revisions when significant developments in the science of wildlife rehabilitation are made. The MSWR has been adopted by the United States Fish & Wildlife who requires adherence to the standards in order to receive and renew federal permits. Many states and provinces, including California, Michigan, Nova Scotia, and Rhode Island also use the MSWR as a tool for establishing the appropriateness of rehabilitation facilities and policies.