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Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator

great horned owl

The goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to release injured and orphaned wildlife safely back into the wild. Doing so consistently requires big investments of time, money and heart. Rehabbers must get a lot of training and devote a lot of space and time to the wildlife in their care.

The following information will help you understand the policies and protocols for licensure:

  1. Wildlife Rehabilitation Is It For You? A booklet from the Wildlife Rehabilitator Recruiting Project providing a general overview.

  2. Wild in Vermont Apprentice Program Package A group of Vermont rehabilitator formed Wild in Vermont to sponsor fledgling rehabbers.

  3. VT Wildlife Rehab Regulations The state’s rules regarding wildlife rehabilitation. For your own safety you need to learn them.

  4. VFWD Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit Application (pdf version /word version) If you already have significant rehab experience you could submit this form now. If not, apprenticing is the smartest, safest and cheapest way to get started. Read it to understand what will be expected of you.

  5. Wildlife Rehabilitator Locator Map & List Use it as a checklist when interviewing rehabbers.

  6. Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation Beware, this is a large and detailed document, save it for last.

  7. Visit the National Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association (NWRA) website (, attend Wildlife Rehabilitation conferences, and read the book Principles of Wildlife Rehabilitation from NWRA (you’ll get a “free” copy if you take an NWRA rehab basics course).

What to do next?
Download and read items 1-4 first. While doing so keep track of all the questions that come up for you. Then call and/or visit one or more rehabbers to gain their perspectives (use the rehabber list provided). Ask questions—lots of questions (about the species they work with, about gaps in species coverage in your area, about the costs, about the time commitment, about paperwork, and about what happens when animals die). Ask several rehabbers the same questions.

Once you’ve talked with other rehabbers and you feel ready to proceed, find a sponsor with whom you can apprentice. Apprenticing is the only way to fully appreciate the realities of wildlife rehabilitation without going to the expense of establishing your own wildlife care facility. You can check with any licensed rehabber that you’d like.

Find a licensed wildlife rehabilitator »

Wildlife Rehabilitation: what to do if you find a sick or injured animal »

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