Wildlife rehabilitation is the process in which orphaned, injured and displaced wildlife are received into care by permitted individuals who are licensed and trained to provide the appropriate care so that the bird or mammal can be released back into its natural habitat equipped with the skills to survive long term. The majority of these wildlife care services are provided by volunteers, who are financially responsible for all the costs involved. Wildlife rehabilitators do not necessarily get to choose a convenient schedule for when they volunteer. How much time, effort, energy and expense they provide is usually determined by the type of species in their care and how many wildlife are in care.
Becoming a wildlife rehabilitator is huge responsibility that requires commitment. Anyone considering the possibility of pursuing this volunteer path should volunteer for an existing wildlife rehabilitator or wildlife facility first to help determine if this is the right choice for them. A lot of energy is invested into training new rehabilitators so it is important for a potential volunteer to evaluate whether they can devote at least 2 years to this type of volunteer work.
The first thing to do if you are interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator is to speak with an existing rehabilitator or wildlife facility to discuss get all the details for your area. Almost all state's require that new rehabilitators be sponsored and trained by experienced rehabilitators. They will also provide guidance on the permitting requirements. States may also have an exam as part of the permitting process. Click here to find a wildlife rehabilitator near you.