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Wildlife Rehabilitation
What to do if you find a sick or injured animal

The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to release injured and orphaned wildlife safely back into the wild. Wildlife rehabilitators are individuals that have been granted Wildlife Rehabilitation permits in accordance with statute 10 V.S.A. § 5215(b) and regulation 10 V.S.A. App. § 9.

Rehabilitators may legally possess and treat most common birds, mammals, reptiles and amphibians with the exception of deer, moose, bear and wild turkey. Only two facilities in Vermont are authorized to accept Threatened & Endangered species.

If you find a sick or injured animal...
For the safety of all wildlife taking a wild animal into captivity is illegal. If you find a sick or orphaned animal, however, you can contact the nearest rehabilitator specializing in the species you’ve found.

Be aware that a rehabilitator does not necessarily treat all types of wildlife, all species within a wildlife category, and/or may not have capacity to accept another animal. Call the rehabilitator first to find out what he or she generally accepts for wildlife species BEFORE you try to capture or transport an animal for care.

Rehabilitators are usually unable to pick-up injured wildlife, but they can provide advice on the best procedures for safely collecting the animal and will offer directions to their facility.

If you care leave them there!
If you find a young animal or bird that appears to be abandoned, do not pick it up! Adult animals of many species, such as rabbits and owls, limit the number of daily visits to their young. This prevents predators from discovering the location of newborns or hatchlings. Leave the area immediately.

If you find a bird and have already handled it, place the bird back in the nest or in a tree or shrub close by. Birds lack a sense of smell, and will not reject a youngster placed back in the nest. Many backyard birds frequently outgrow their nest and leave days before they can fly. The parent birds will continue to care for their young, even away from the nest, so do not pick up the fledglings.

To protect the young birds, keep cats and dogs away and/or move the chick to the nearest shrub or natural cover. Then leave the area and allow the parent birds to respond to the food-begging calls of their young.

Never pick up a deer.
White-tailed deer fawns use their spotted coats as camouflage and remain motionless to avoid detection from potential predators, including humans. If you see a fawn curled up at the edge of a path or field, leave the area immediately and do not return. Your presence will prevent the doe from returning to her fawn for periodic nursing.

Only licensed rehabilitators may legally care for wildlife. Rehabilitators have undertaken extensive training and have invested significantly in their wildlife care facilities. These facilities are inspected regularly by the Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department. Anyone interested in becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator is encouraged to talk with an established rehabilitator and to volunteer in order to gain an understanding of the time and commitment involved.

To learn more about wildlife rehabilitation, permit prerequisites and application procedures click here or call 802-241-3700. Also, Wild In Vermont Inc (PO 163, Underhill Center, VT 05490 or 802-899-1027) coordinates an apprentice program with several participating Vermont rehabilitators.

Find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator »

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fox kit Red Fox kit-Lamar USFWS

BE CAREFUL. Mammals—particularly foxes, raccoon, skunk, woodchuck, and bats—can transmit rabies. If you find one of these animals that you believe needs help call the Rabies Hotline at 1-800-4-RABIES. Do not attempt to touch the animal until after contacting the hotline and do not allow children, other people or pets to come in contact with the animal.

robin fledgling American Robin fledgling-Varner USFWS

deer fawn Deer fawn-Laroche VFWD
Wildlife rehabilitators are not authorized to accept deer fawns.

Interested in Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator? Learn more »

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