Standards in Wildlife Rehabilitation

The US National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (NWRA)  and The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) have jointly published the industry standard in rehabilitation management since 1989. The 3rd edition is no longer available from IWRC.

Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation, 4th edition, is based on accepted norms in biology, medicine, behavior, natural history, and, of course, wildlife rehabilitation. The information in the publication pertains to all who rehabilitate wildlife, regardless of numbers and types of wildlife cared for, budget size, number of paid or volunteer staff, and size and location of activity. To purchase a hard copy of Standards for $15.00, plus shipping and handling, click here.

This publication was reviewed and updated by experienced wildlife rehabilitators and provides useful information on appropriate cage sizes, disinfectants, and cage furniture while caring for wildlife undergoing rehabilitation. This 116-page book is available as a free download to all IWRC members or for purchase through NWRA or IWRC for $15.00.

IWRC members can download the 4th edition (2012) under the member only page Minimum Standards and Position Statements. All are welcome to purchase a physical copy of the 4th edition from our store.

For differences between the 3rd and 4th editions see this useful PDF from NWRA.

Code of Ethics

1   A wildlife rehabilitator should strive to achieve high standards of animal care through knowledge and an understanding of the field. Individuals must make an effort to be informed of current rehabilitation information, methods, and regulations through participation in continuing education.

2   A wildlife rehabilitator should be responsible, conscientious, and dedicated, and should work continuously toward improving the quality of care given to wild animals undergoing rehabilitation.

3   A wildlife rehabilitator must abide by local, state, provincial and federal laws concerning wildlife, wildlife rehabilitation, and associated activities.

4   A wildlife rehabilitator should establish safe work habits and conditions, abiding by current health and safety practices at all times.

5   A wildlife rehabilitator should acknowledge limitations and enlist the assistance of a veterinarian and other trained professionals when appropriate.

6   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.

7   A wildlife rehabilitator should place optimum animal care above personal gain.

8   A wildlife rehabilitator should strive to provide professional and humane care in all phases of wildlife rehabilitation, protecting the welfare, 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. Nonreleasable animals have a right to euthanasia.

9  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.

10  A wildlife rehabilitator should work from a foundation of sound ecological principles, incorporating appropriate conservation ethics and an attitude of stewardship.

11  A wildlife rehabilitator should conduct all business, activities, and communications in a professional manner, with honesty, integrity, compassion, and commitment, realizing that an individual's conduct reflects on the entire field of wildlife rehabilitation

Position Statements

IWRC has begun creating position statements on current issues involving wildlife rehabilitation. These statements are meant to compliment the Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation and provide useful information for policy makers and individual rehabilitators.

Legal Framework for Wildlife Rehabilitation

Feral Cats and Dogs

Lead statement

Wildlife Legislation in Different Countries

In order to become a wildlife rehabilitator, licensing and permits are required in most countries. Every state and province has different regulations depending on the species of animal you wish to care for, and the type of activities you plan to do:

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