Wildlife Legislations in North America

United States

Wildlife rehabilitation licenses or permits are required to work with most native species, since wildlife is a natural resource and considered the property of the collective people of a state. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service require federal rehabilitation permits to work with migratory bird species, marine mammals, and species listed under the Endangered Species Act.  Most state wildlife agencies also require wildlife rehabilitation permits or licenses to rehabilitate wildlife.  The requirements to obtain a state wildlife rehabilitation license or permit vary widely.

Most states have a written application process in which a prospective rehabilitator needs to provide qualifications or previous animal experience.  Some states also require the completion of a training course or curriculum or passing a state-approved wildlife rehabilitation exam, such as the IWRC’s Basics Course.  To find out the requirements for your state, contact your state wildlife management agency or a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in your area.

Permitting Agencies: USA – Click on a State to get information



As in the United States, a federal license issued by Environment Canada’s Canadian Wildlife Services must be applied for to rehabilitate all native migratory birds. Marine mammals are protected under the federal Fisheries Act and permits for rehabilitation are issued by the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

Each province has its own Ministry of Natural Resources department that requires you to have a permit depending on whether you are working with mammals, reptiles and amphibians, and both migratory and non-migratory birds. Subsets of permits also exist depending on whether you are providing educational activities at your facility or are involved in research, as well as if the species you are caring for falls under the Endangered Species Act. Permits have to be applied for to possess dead wildlife, and parts (e.g. nests, feathers, etc) for education.

Permitting Agencies: Canada – Click on a Province to get information