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. In 2021 we transitioned from Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation to the more apt Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation.
Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation pertains to all who rehabilitate wildlife, regardless of numbers and species of wildlife cared for, budget size, number of paid or volunteer staff, or size and location of activity. Regulatory and species information is specific to the United States and Canada, welfare implications are applicable globally. The intent is not to exclude, but to include and encourage rehabilitators as they strive to improve.
All current members can read the book from their respective organization(s) at anytime for no charge, so long as they have an internet connection.
The book is available for purchase in print ($40) and e-book ($35) or as a bundle ($60) from both IWRC and NWRA.
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
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.
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: