Intent Not Result—Drives US Migratory Bird Treaty Act Interpretation

Part I (March 2018)

On December 22, 2017, the US Department of the Interior released a new interpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), which does not prohibit incidental take. In addition, the US House of Representatives introduced a bill in November (HR 4239) which similarly removes protections from animals affected by the energy industry (oil spills, turbine issues, etc).

Read more about both initiatives courtesy of the American Bird Conservancy and learn about actions you can take.

Listen to Bye, Bye, Birdies? a 35 min podcast where several experts discuss the MBTA and the changes.

Part II (May 2018)

US rehabilitators may recall the recent reinterpretation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA) that we reported on this Winter. It is no longer the result of an activity, but instead its intent that matters in regards to the MBTA. Stated plainly if birds, eggs, or nests are destroyed by an activity, but the purpose of that activity was not to destroy the birds, eggs, or nests, then the MBTA does not apply.

Wildlife rehabilitators in the US should be aware of this change when speaking to the public about legal interactions with wildlife. Unfortunately, the presence of a nesting bird no longer means it is against the law to take down a building. We can still counsel the public on best practices, and encourage them to act in the animal's interest, but we cannot say the action is illegal if the purpose is not to kill the bird(s). To help wildlife professionals navigate this new interpretation the USFWS has kindly issued a 7-page memorandum.

Additional communications are expected this summer regarding wildlife rehabilitation specific guidance.

In the meantime, IWRC is interested in hearing how this interpretation is affecting the day to day work of US rehabilitators.

Tidbits from board member – Brooke Durham

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

I grew up in Eastern Kentucky. When I was about 10 years old my grandfather found a pair of (almost) fledgling Eastern Screech Owl chicks at the family lake house in the spring, when he arrived to get things in order for the upcoming summer. He brought them to me and instructed me to feed them for a few days until they were strong enough to fly into in the forest that surrounded my childhood home. I’ll never forget the sound they made when I opened the box to peek in; that screech seemed to terrify everyone - except me. In a few days’ time, they were off on their own and I was hooked, or “taloned”?

 

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

Early in my wildlife rehab volunteer days I joined IWRC so that I could access the reduced fee on their online classes for Pain Management, Wound Management, Fluid Therapy as well as published materials and eventually the Basic Wildlife Rehab Course. IWRC has always exemplified the profession of wildlife rehabilitation to me, and I’m honored to help serve the membership as a board member so that they can access the same resources for the benefit of the animals we serve.

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

There are certainly members of the board and membership that have more in-depth knowledge of the medical and biological aspects of wildlife rehab than I do. There was a time when I believed those would be my strongest assets in this field, but when the opportunity-task of setting up and administering my own organization presented itself, I set about learning all I could to ensure its success. That determination led me to pursue a comprehensive Nonprofit Management Certificate through the University of San Diego. I’ve learned so very much about the governance of a nonprofit through that program, and combined with my experience as a wildlife rehab volunteer and involvement with unrelated professional organizations as a committee member - I think I come with strong, broad foundation of knowledge to work from.

As for a particular passion; I have experienced so many periods in my wildlife rehab career where I felt isolated and alone, where I saw the obvious effects of inter-agency and even inter-personal failures to communicate and cooperate that left the wildlife patients on the losing end. This, in turn leads to a high rate of rehabber burn-out. I really feel it is my purpose to foster better communication, understanding and cooperation between all involved. It’s all about collaboration!

 

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

My background in art has come in handy when I’m explaining a new enclosure design to my husband. He works in construction so we make a good team.

 

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

A difficult choice between sweet, calm but utterly relentless Jane Goodall and charming, wild and equally determined Steve Irwin. Either way – it would be a “wildlife warrior”.

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Flamingo – the strutting, dancing and the fabulous plumage make this an easy choice for me.

 

What is the thing for which you have waited in line the longest?

1987 University of Kentucky Men’s Basketball Midnight Madness when I was about 11 years old. I was a gymnast/cheerleader at the time and while our moms held our place in line a group of my friends and I found a patch of grass to tumble and stunt to occupy the hours of time in line. While tumbling I (just slightly) dislocated my elbow, but when I felt it and grabbed my arm, I popped it right back into place. Nonetheless - we went to ER got an x-ray, ice pack and a sling and got back in line in time to enter and enjoy the night. A close 2nd would be standing 1st in line for Janet Jackson concert tickets.

 

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Any wildlife “release day”, though it’s usually an even mix of anxiety and excitement.

 

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

English Bulldog – Krystal

French Bulldog – Romeo

A blind French Bulldog/Boston Terrier (puppy mill rescue) – Poppy

2 Goats – Luke & Sombra + an assortment of chickens & domestic ducks

California Desert Tortoise – Jean-Louis Agassiz

About 50 Koi + 10 Red-eared Slider turtles

Umbrella Cockatoo who has refused all names we’ve offered except for “Cockatoo”

European Starling – Clarice Starling (Silence of the Lambs)

Yellow-naped Amazon (parrot) – Slider

Lilac-crowned Amazon (parrot) – Hilo

Green-cheeked Amazon (parrot) – Cali

2 Red-masked Conure (parakeets) – Nene & Conner

2 Blind Green-cheeked Amazon (parrots) – Justice & Stevie (because: Justice is blind, and Stevie Wonder)

 

Also, our rehab facility is on my home property so at any given time there could be just about any kind of animal - in any kind of crate - in any room or area of the house. Neonate baby birds in portable brooders go on the nightstand beside my bed so that I can monitor them during the night and administer their first hydration in the early morning. I literally live in a zoo.

 

Tidbits from board member – Suzanne Pugh

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

As a child there were so many stories and story books my mom shared with me, Tarka the Otter, Watership Down, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, not to mention the bedtime stories my mother made up! However, there was a brilliant service hosted by the British Post Office, that cemented my love of animals. It was a weekly children's bedtime story read by Johnny Morris, a television and radio presenter for the BBC and a great story teller. Morris narrated many animal related stories including Tales of the Riverbank – about an assorted collection of animal friends and each week a different animal story could only be heard by telephone. I loved sitting with my mom, dad and sister each Sunday night waiting for the time to dial “150” and listening to these exciting tales.

 

Suzanne and Darren at Mauna Kea Observatory, Hawaii, 2017.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

Back in 2004 I was volunteering on a committee to investigate the potential for a wildlife rehabilitation centre in Kelowna, BC. I became aware of IWRC through this network and subsequently attended a Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course. Since then I have remained an IWRC member since that time and in the following years attended conferences and completed additional training workshops through IWRC.  I went on to lead the BC SPCA Kelowna animal shelter for 5 years, where wildlife intake rose year on year and aware of the limited resources available for wildlife, I was driven to join the board of directors to further the cause.

 

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

Avian – So few resources are available for the care, rehabilitation and release of wild birds and public education and awareness is key particularly to support the issues faced during baby bird season. More skilled professionals are required who are proficient in identifying species to provide triage and treatment to injured birds, who are candidates for rehab and release.

 

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

During my time as Branch Manager, BC SPCA Kelowna, I was responsible for the health and welfare of almost 8000 animals – farm, domestic and wildlife. I remain immensely proud of this work.

 

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

So many –Sir David Attenborough leaps to mind but if I had to choose just one it would be The Dalai Lama. He once said something that rings true for me for all sentient beings - “Our prime purpose in life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.”

 

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?   

Without a doubt it would be animal related. I enjoy working closely with people and animals and would like to help bridge gaps to improve welfare for working animals around the globe, particularly donkeys, to support efforts to help communities who rely on these animals as a mode of transport and to provide resources to raise donkey welfare standards, in turn supporting the owner’s livelihood. Alternatively, I would like to support communities who rely on livestock within wildlife habitats, to collaborate on solutions to reducing wildlife conflict and finding ways to co-exist.

 

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

An Orangutan

 

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

Daisy and Ted

My husband and I are guardians to 2 Labrador dogs. Both are adopted and are both on their 3rd and permanent home with us. Daisy, a black lab, is now 15+ years and Ted our chocolate lab is 10yrs, going on 2! Daisy has been with us since she was 18 months and has hiked, biked and camped across North America. She has always amazed us, whenever we reached the top of a mountain during a hike she would appear to sit at the top and gaze intently out across the vista. Daisy is now relaxing in her senior years. However, for Ted, every day he wakes - life is one big party! He brings lots of fun to our household, we have many “Ted-ventures” and we wouldn’t change either of them for the world.

2018 Board Changes

IWRC's annual board and officer elections are complete. Breakdown of the results:

 

Member Election Results

Lloyd Brown (reelected)

Brooke Durham *new board member

Laurin Huse (reelected)

Board Appointed Individuals

Shathi Govender *new board member

Adam Grogan (reelected)

Suzanne Pugh *new board member

Officer Positions

Mandy Kamps is our newly elected vice-president.

Adam Grogan has moved from his previous post as vice-president to president-elect.

Our other officer positions remain the same as 2017 with Sue Wylie - president, Kristen Heitman - secretary, Dani Nicholson - treasurer.

 

Meet all our 2018 full board of directors

Feathers, Native Culture, and Rehabilitation

 

By Katie McInnis DVM

As wildlife rehabilitators we all know the value of feathers to birds. Thermoregulation, communication, and mobility are just a few ways birds utilize their feathers. But what about when a bird no longer needs those feathers? What purpose can they serve? For some, imping is an excellent use of feathers, as is utilizing them for research or educational purposes. While these options have great merit, most feathers that end up being saved are eagle feathers, in the US the majority of which end up at the National Eagle Repository.

Variegated eagle feather

The National Eagle Repository is a government sanctioned collection site for both bald and golden eagle carcasses and feathers. With the inception of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and other wildlife protection laws, US Native Americans lost the right to possess and utilize feathers that they required for important cultural and religious purposes. For decades USFWS tried to come up with solutions, but even with the establishment of the National Eagle Repository the process of just getting a single feather was slow and laborious. In 1990 the Pueblo of Zuni made a bold but sensible proposition. Wildlife rehabilitators were often faced with the challenge of what to do with non-releasable eagles. The Zuni proposed the creation of a long term care facility where the birds could live out their lives, well cared for, while providing molted feathers to native people. With the institution of the Native American Eagle Aviary Permit, native communities were able to benefit not only from molted feathers, but from the pride and satisfaction of caring for eagles that still have a good quality of life despite having disabilities that make them unreleasable.

In Perkins, Oklahoma Megan Judkins spends many hours working with eagles and their feathers. Megan works at the Grey Snow Eagle House, a rehabilitation and long term care facility for eagles that is run by the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma. While their primary focus is caring for their eagle population, they also rehabilitate eagles from Oklahoma, provide educational programs, and are working in collaboration with Oklahoma State on genomic research of bald and golden eagles. Although these things keep them busy, their main focus is the health and well being of the eagles. Eagles are screened carefully before being allowed to enter long term care, and once in the program they are given bi-annual veterinary exams, multiple forms of enrichment and are carefully monitored to ensure they have the best quality of life possible.

Megan says that while many people think Grey Snow Eagle House (GSEH) opened specifically to provide feathers for the Iowa Nation this is actually a misconception. “The GSEH opened because while eagles play pivotal roles in all Native cultures, for the Iowa Tribe of Oklahoma the eagle is viewed as the only living creature that has seen the face of the creator. The eagle also assists the tribal members by carrying their prayers to the creator. So, by rehabilitating injured eagles and releasing them back into the wild, the tribe believes that these birds will continue to help their tribal members by carrying their prayers. In addition, by providing high quality homes to the eagles that cannot be released back to the wild, the tribe is saying thank you to the species for helping the tribe through the generations. Finally, by participating in research collaborations, we are ensuring bald and golden eagles persist through future generations.”

To learn more about the Grey Snow Eagle House you can visit their website here: http://eagles.iowanation.org/ But why visit online when you can visit in person! Grey Snow Eagle House will be hosting the IWRC Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Class December 1-2, 2017. There are still a few spots available so sign up today!

Tidbits from board member Brenda Harms

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.  

My mother always tried to save the birds our cat caught (this was back in the stone age).  She’d feed them white bread soaked in milk and keep them in a shoebox (well, at least she got the shoebox right!).  Not a single one ever survived and she cried every time one would die.  I learned from her that humans are responsible for the creatures in our midst, and we need to try our hardest to do right by them.  My mother would have become a wildlife rehabber if the opportunity had been available and then, perhaps, some of those birds would have survived.   

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?  

I’ve always been involved with the nonprofits in the town I live in.  Once my children got older, I became interested in learning more about nonprofit governance and fundraising and even took some fundraising classes.  When my teenage daughter saw a Dawn commercial that featured Tri State Bird Rescue, I found myself traveling to Delaware with her to take Tri State’s oiled bird course.  It was there that I first met people who were wildlife rehabbers.  An internet search led me to IWRC’s Virginia Beach Symposium in 2009.  At a symposium roundtable, I shared my desire to combine my law degree and interests in nonprofits with my love for wildlife, and before I could say “Jack Rabbit,” I was on the board.  I became Secretary of the board the following year.  My seven years on the board have been immensely fulfilling.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

Volunteering at our local rehabilitation hospital, I’ve discovered that very few people know how to defrost a refrigerator/freezer quickly and thoroughly.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?  

I’d love to be mentored by Dr. Jane Goodall for the sole purpose of learning how to be so brave.   Her leap from vision to execution and on to perseverance fills me with awe.  

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?   

I’m the only board member who isn’t a wildlife rehabber (I’m a lawyer), so I hope that one day I’ll actually become one.  

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Oh, I’d have to be an Osprey.  Watching them and wanting to protect them was the reason I became involved with wildlife preservation in the first place. I’d summer in New England and winter in Rio!

Tidbits from board member Adam Grogan

Please share an early/childhood experience that was pivotal to your personal relationship to wildlife.

I remember we used to find hedgehogs in the garden at our south London home, as well as one particular experience of finding a baby bird on the pavement when coming home from school. I must have been about 7 years old and not knowing any better took it home. Unfortunately, it died the next day.

How did you initially become involved with IWRC and why did you choose to become involved on a board level?

 

I attended a conference in 2001 in Florida and became hooked. I couldn’t attend the IWRC meeting every year but came whenever I could. I got involved with the Board because I was interested in training and working towards having agreed standards in wildlife rehabilitation across the globe.

Describe a specific area of interest or a particular passion within the scope of IWRC's mission.

The training is the area I am most interested in. I have seen so many examples of bad welfare in rehabilitation, and I think that having agreed-upon standards and trainings are the best ways to address these issues.

Describe a skill that you have that has been surprisingly useful to your work as a wildlife rehabilitator? (or as an IWRC board member?)

I have participated in many projects involving the radio tracking of mammals and this is a skill that is not often used by the rehabilitation community. Again, it is one of my passions to have more rehabilitators work towards a better understanding of the animals they rehabilitate by monitoring them after release, and radio tracking is one way of doing that.

Describe a project or accomplishment that you consider to be the most significant in your career.

Achieving my current position as Head of Wildlife at the RSPCA would definitely rank highly here.

If you could choose, who would you have as a mentor?

I was lucky to have Dr. David Macdonald as a mentor when I was working with his research unit in Oxford. If I was to choose another, then I would choose Dr. Jane Goodall.

If you were to do something else professionally, what would it be?

I would still like to work outside, but if not wildlife orientated, perhaps a ranger or something similar?

If you could be a wild animal, which would you be?

Otter

What is the thing for which you have waited the longest in line for?

I honestly can’t remember!

What excites you so much that it keeps you awake the night before?

Traveling, especially flying!

Describe any companion animals that you share your home and life with.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any companion animals with me at home, but I do get my dog fix in the office. Our office has a dog friendly policy, and there are a number of dogs that I see regularly, including a beautiful Irish setter called Bridie. She was rescued from awful conditions by the RSPCA and has now been re-homed by one of my colleagues. She is very photogenic and has a wonderful temperament!

Wildlife Rehabilitation Organizations Come Together for Week of CE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 7th, 2017

(Anaheim, CA)Since 1982 the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (NWRA) has been dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems. The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) established its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation class in 1984 to bring science-based education to rehabilitators worldwide. For many years both organizations have worked to disseminate knowledge, improve standards of care, and promote the conservation of wildlife. Now for the first time, we are coming together to provide a full week of continuing education for our members.

We are excited to announce that IWRC will be holding its Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation course at the upcoming NWRA Symposium in 2018. This two day course has been taught around the globe to wildlife rehabilitators, veterinarians, and biologists. The course registration includes a half-day lab as well as a copy of the new book, Wildlife Rehabilitation: A Comprehensive Approach! This course will be taught by former NWRA Board member and long time IWRC instructor Renee Schott, DVM, CWR. Come early for the IWRC Basic Course, February 26 and 27, then spend the rest of the week learning and networking at the NWRA Symposium! NWRA members receive the IWRC member rate for the Basic Course and IWRC members receive a 20 percent discount on the full week NWRA Symposium registration providing they book before February 16, 2018. For more symposium information, follow this link NWRA Symposium 2018. Registration for the IWRC Basic Class opens in November.

 

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Media Contacts: IWRC Kai Williams director@theiwrc.org @malkahkai @theiwrc 866-871-1869 x1

NWRA Molly Gezella-Baranczyk nwrasymposium@gmail.com (320) 230-9920

PDF of IWRC/NWRA Press Release

ABOUT THE ORGS

The NWRA was born in 1982 at the first National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Symposium in Naperville, Illinois. The rich diversity of expertise and interest represented at the symposium provided a firm foundation for a national organization designed to meet the needs of wildlife rehabilitators. As the mission statement says , NWRA is “dedicated to improving and promoting the profession of wildlife rehabilitation and its contributions to preserving natural ecosystems.”

Incorporated in 1975, the IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide.

#HarveyWildlife Rehabilitation Effort Fundraiser

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

September 4th, 2017

 

Wildlife Rehabilitation Community Aids Its Own

[HOUSTON, TX] Disasters bring communities together and bring out the best in people. Organizations helping people and organizations helping companion animals (dogs, cats, horses, etc.) impacted by natural and human-made disasters have become part of the emergency landscape. They quickly and efficiently channel donor dollars into relief efforts.

It’s different with wildlife. While wild animals impacted by these same disasters get compassionate care from wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators, a well-organized and well-funded response system has never been in place.

The magnitude of the devastation wrought by Hurricane Harvey has compelled our organizations – LoveAnimals.org, Animal Help Now, Southern Wildlife Rehab, and The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) – to put together a fundraising effort to come to the aid of the wildlife rehabilitators and rescuers desperately working to save wild animals orphaned, injured, or displaced by Hurricane Harvey and subsequent Texas flooding. The organizers intend for this effort to help serve as a model for future response efforts.

In just a few days, the Harvey WIldlife Relief Fund has attracted more than a hundred donors and about $9,000 in donations. Before a week will pass on this fund’s launch, donated dollars will be transferred to the accounts of the wildlife rehabilitators who have applied for assistance.

IWRC member and REP for Wildlife founder, Brooke Durham explains, “Our goal with the Harvey Wildlife Relief Fund is to quickly and efficiently get funds transferred over to our licensed wildlife rehabilitators in Texas so that they can continue to provide their vital services to wildlife and indeed to the public in the affected areas.”

Michelle Camara, whose Southern Wildlife Rehab was not impacted by Hurricane Harvey, stepped up to help her colleagues. Camara adds, “Wildlife rehabbers and rescuers in the impacted Gulf Coast region are in desperate need of help. Some operations have been directly damaged by the storm. Some farther north are taking in patients from those directly impacted. Most rehabbers have no means of fundraising, and even those that do cannot focus on anything right now other than admitting and triaging the stream of opossums, baby squirrels, raccoons, snakes and shorebirds arriving at their doors.”

Animal Help Now co-founder and executive director David Crawford adds, “It is clear that coordinated efforts to assist wildlife and wildlife rehabilitators must be in place in advance of anticipated disasters such as floods and hurricanes. This collaborative effort, facilitated in exemplary fashion by John Irvine, President of LoveAnimals.org, will help create a model going forward. We have learned a lot, and Harvey has again demonstrated that wildlife is especially vulnerable to environmental disasters in this new century.”

The team behind this fundraising effort is donating all time and materials, so besides some minor credit card processor fees, 100% of the money is going directly to wildlife rehabilitators and rescuers directly or indirectly impacted by Hurricane Harvey.

Grant funding is open to licensed wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife related registered nonprofit orgs (wildlife centers, home-based wildlife rehabilitators, wildlife hotlines and rescues) who have been directly or indirectly impacted by Hurricane Harvey. The initial grants are modest, but the group will be awarding them frequently, and recipients are allowed to receive multiple grants.

Donations may be made at www.LoveAnimals.org/Harvey.

Candidates may apply online or by phone at (210) 825-8961.

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LINKS

Facebook Page

Application Form

Donation Site     

PDF of #HarveyWildlife Press Release

Media Contact: Kai Williams director@theiwrc.org @malkahkai @theiwrc 866-871-1869 x1

Hashtag #Harveywildlife

ABOUT THE ORGS

The IWRC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that protects wildlife and habitat through training and resources on wildlife rehabilitation. The organization’s mission statement is “providing science-based education and resources on wildlife rehabilitation to promote wildlife conservation and welfare worldwide.” Wildlife rehabilitation is the act of providing temporary care for injured, sick or orphaned wildlife with the goal of releasing them back into the wild. By providing unique insights into issues affecting wildlife populations, species, and habitats wildlife rehabilitation contributes to wildlife conservation and protection worldwide. @theiwrc

Animal Help Now, through AHNow.org and free iPhone and Android apps, leverages digital technologies to immediately connect people involved with animal emergencies with the most appropriate time- and location-specific resources and services. Animal Help Now also works to minimize threats to wildlife through education and advocacy. AHNow is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. @animalhelpnow

Southern Wildlife Rehab, Inc. was founded by Michelle Camara in 2014. She has rehabilitated animals for over 30 years. The subpermittees, volunteers, vets and consulting experts from all over the United States help us in our efforts to rescue and rehabilitate native wildlife. We are all 100% unpaid volunteers based in Texas and Louisiana.

Photos (click individual photos for captions and version downloadable by press. Use only with this story)

Logos

Wildlife Rehabilitation: The Career

Reprinted with permission from Becoming a Wildlife Professional, Scott E Henke and Paul R Krausman, editors (pp 140-142)

Wildlife rehabilitation centers are nonprofit or governmental agencies that provide care to injured, ill, and orphaned wild animals and assist area residents with human/wildlife conflicts. Organizational goals and missions focus on the conservation of species, conflict resolution, public education, the relief of animals’ pain and suffering, and the monitoring of anthropogenic issues (influences of humans on nature), including lead ammunition, rodenticides, and climate change.

Job Description

Wildlife rehabilitators are quick thinkers who work well with people and animals. They have a passion for wildlife, but the job is more far-reaching than feeding and caring for individual animals. Many centers have limited staffs, which require their employees to be jacks-of-all-trades, ranging from construction and maintenance to veterinary nursing and habitat design. On an annual basis, rehabilitators can expect to spend 35% of their time caring for animals, 35% working with the public, 15% handling administrative tasks, and 15% managing the facility. The duties in each of these areas vary seasonally, as do the expected hours worked per week. Spring and summer months see baby animals brought to the centers, with at least 12-hour days of feeding and public education to prevent the kidnapping of young wildlife that do not need assistance. Intakes in summer and, especially, fall involve many immature species venturing out on their own and having accidents with cas, windows, diseases, and poisonings. Winter is traditionally a quieter season, with time to concentrate on records and continuing education, while also caring for a smaller number of juvenile and adult animals that are more critically injured.

One of the most important aspects of this work is interacting with the public. Rehabilitators are ambassadors between wildlife and the public. A conversation with one person is shared with friends and family and will reflect the way they handle wildlife situations in the future. Rehabilitators humanely resolve human/animal conflicts, from squirrels nesting in the attic to woodpeckers that are busy removing termites from the siding of a house and, in the process, damaging that siding. A busy center may get over 100 phone calls on a spring day, which need support from skilled animal caregivers to assess whether an animal is exhibiting natural behavior or if it may need to be admitted. Every animal that stays in the wild and does not need to come into a wildlife rehabilitation center is a success story.

Animal intakes require human interactions and wildlife knowledge. Intake rehabilitators are the public face of the wildlife center. These rehabilitators obtain the necessary history on the animal, gathering information that assists in its diagnosis and care. Often this happens at the center, but in some circumstances this occurs out in the field, where rehabilitators deal with on-site conflict resolution or rescue and capture operations. Members of the public are usually in an emotional state during their initial interactions with a wildlife rehabilitator. They may be scared of the animal, as well as scared for the animal’s welfare. Part of the rehabilitators’ regular job is to counsel these individuals and help them make the best choice for the animal.

The second part of an animal intake is an initial exam and triage. Rehabilitators follow wildlife center protocols, which often includes a quick exam for immediately life-threatening problems, followed by triage care for blood loss, dehydration, and hypothermia. Once the animal has been stabilized, a more thorough examination is completed by a lead wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

Additional animal care duties include follow-up treatments, daily rounds and observations, the feeding of young nursing mammals or the hand feeding of altricial birds (young hatchlings), and assisting with veterinary examinations and surgeries. Some interactions have a strong emotional component (e.g., euthanasia, cadaver management). Rehabilitators perform necropsies and ensure the appropriate disposal of deceased animal remains. Rehabilitators also release healthy wildlife into suitable environments.

Many of the tasks rehabilitators do on a daily basis for animals that are in a center’s care are indirect. Entry-level wildlife rehabilitators can expect to spend most of their time preparing food for the animals and cleaning laundry, dishes, and cages. This unglamourous group of tasks is critical for both the animals’ and human health. Rehabilitators also perform cage management, to ensure that these areas are appropriate to an animal’s age and health and provide proper substrates, enrichment, and exercise options for that animal. A surprising amount of time is spent in food acquisition. This can include foraging for wild insects and plants, raising and caring for farmed insects and rodents, and soliciting grocery stores and other companies for donated produce and seeds.

Rehabilitators do extensive research on and planning for each species that enters the center. For example, when faced with a new species, I have spent countless hours reviewing natural history texts, especially volumes that contain accounts of direct observations, and being on the phone with biologists and other wildlife rehabilitators who have prior experience with that species. Such research supplies information about the diet, caging, and release criteria for each animal brought to the center, and this is an essential aspect of the job for wildlife rehabilitators.

Each individual patient has a treatment plan, created in conjunction with the center’s veterinarian. The treatment plan is the culmination of subjective and objective observations, examinations, and laboratory results. Often rehabilitators’ duties include blood and fecal analyses for parasite identification, packed cell volume, white blood cell counts, and differential blood cell counts, while more in-depth work in this area generally is sent out to a lab by the attending veterinarian.

Wildlife rehabilitators often participate in research, either within the center or in conjunction with a university. Topics may include patient case histories, disease identification, parasite loads and identification, release rates, post-release monitoring, and the success rates of new and novel treatments. For examples of such research, see the Journal of Wildlife Rehabilitation website.

Administrative aspects of wildlife rehabilitation include keeping records, maintaining organizational health (account balancing, public relations, board and staff relations, and the revision and care of organizational documents, such as bylaws and strategic plans), and managing human resources. Most wildlife centers do not have large staffs. Therefore, administrative tasks often are performed by the people caring for the wildlife. Record keeping is done both for the center's information and for governmental reporting requirements in the United States, wildlife centers are regulated by state departments of natural resources and the US Fish and Wildlife Service. Extensive records are kept on each intake, from data on the citizen who found the animal to the final disposition of the patient. Records must also be kept for controlled drugs licensed to the wildlife center veterinarian, donations received, and staff members. Accounting, budgeting, and fundraising might feel like intrusions, shifting time away from the care of animals, but they are a necessary component in keeping an organization solvent and functioning. Rehabilitators have a responsibility to continue their professional development, in order to maintain an excellent standard of organizational and animal management. Upper-level staff members are also expected to interface with the media and the wildlife center’s board of directors.

Facilities management also is a duty for most wildlife rehabilitators. Expect to do some of the same maintenance work you do at home (e.g., landscaping, maintaining electrical equipment, replacing light bulbs, troubleshooting plumbing, painting). Additionally, you become proficient at basic woodworking while building and repairing cages.

Wildlife rehabilitation is not a 0900-1700 job. The work varies from 4 to 5 hours during the winter to 14-hour days during the summer. Wildlife rehabilitation is an exhilarating and exhausting career choice, requiring total commitment but providing many tangible and intangible rewards. The best ones are to witness a the bird you’ve spent the last five months caring for fly free, or to oversee the release of a beaver that took two years of care before it was independent and ready for the wild.

Background Needed

Successful wildlife rehabilitators have knowledge of and experience in ecology, business, medicine, public policy, and construction. Wildlife rehabilitation is still an emerging field and much can be learned on the ob, but the greater the preparation and the number of skills you have beforehand, the more likely you are to obtain a paid position. Useful hands-on skills include animal handling; knowledge of wild animal behavior; basic wound management; animal rescue techniques; an ability to identify and use basic medical supplies, including common bandage materials, syringes, and needles; experience with basic construction and maintenance tools; expertise in microscopy; an excellent telephone presence; and conflict resolution skills.

As a prospective wildlife rehabilitator, you should not be surprised that the list of required knowledge includes wildlife conservation and medical ethics, natural history, basic pathology, parasitology (especially zoonoses, which are diseases transmitted from animals to humans), anatomy, nutrition, and animal behavior. Often rehabilitation centers are quite small entities, and staff and volunteers must perform multiple tasks. Be prepared to assist with the general management needs of a small nonprofit business, including bookkeeping, fundraising (winter hours maybe be spent submitting numerous grants and planning events to gather support from the local community), human resources, facility maintenance, and all the policies that go with these critical functions. You also will be responsible for understanding and following governmental mandates related to wildlife rehabilitation, at levels ranging from local municipalities to the federal government. For example, the transportation of white-tailed deer between counties might be illegal in one state, to prevent the transmission of chronic wasting disease, or special dispensation might be needed for transport between countries for a Swainson's hawk that missed migration, due to a car accident.

Education Required

At this time, a formal education is not necessary in the wildlife rehabilitation field, but you should expect to need a bachelor’s degree or an associate’s degree as a veterinary technician for paid positions. States and provinces may also require a specific level of education certification, or the passing of certain exams before issuing a license to rehabilitate wildlife.

Pay Scale

Most wildlife rehabilitators are volunteers. Paid positions do exist, however. The general annual pay range is between $20,000 and $40,000, with senior positions at large facilities having salaries of up to $75,000 per year. The pay scales in wildlife rehabilitation depend on the resources and fundraising ability of each organization.

This description originally appeared in Becoming a Wildlife Professional, Scott E Henke and Paul R Krausman, editors (pp 140-142) and is reprinted here with permission.