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What Is Wildlife Rehabilitation?
"Wildlife rehabilitation involves caring for injured, ill and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing each into its natural habitat. Each animal is examined, diagnosed and treated through an individually tailored program of veterinary care, hospital care, feeding, medicating, physical therapy, exercising and pre-release conditioning. Releases are planned for appropriate weather, season, habitat and location. Some animals, of course, are beyond help when found and are humanely euthanized. Unreleasable animals occasionally provide valuable research information or are suitable as educational ambassadors.
Critics of wildlife rehabilitation advocate "Let nature take its course," indicating that distressed wild animals should be allowed to remain free to meet their natural fate. However, records indicate that the majority of injured, ill and orphaned wild animals handled by rehabilitators are suffering not because of "natural" occurrences, but because of human intervention -- some accidental, some intentional, many preventable: autos, trains, mowers, high line wires, firearms, traps, kids throwing stones, woodcutters, picture windows, poisons, oil spills, pets, etc. Rehabilitators ease the suffering of these animals by either caring for them until they can be released or humanely euthanizing them.
Permitted, trained rehabilitators are a valuable link in the network of people and organizations helping wildlife. In addition to returning animals to the wild, they are cooperating to reduce negative human impact on wildlife and the environment. Some are involved in research, captive propagation and reintroduction projects. Many are involved in public education, exposing both children and adults to biological facts, ecological concepts, and a responsible attitude toward all living things. Information from trained, conscientious rehabilitators can and should be used more often to assist in research, law writing and enforcement, population management, habitat preservation, public education programs, and species reintroduction."
- written by the Minnesota Wildlife Assistance Cooperative
Note: Permits from provincial/state and federal wildlife agencies must be obtained in order to possess wildlife (this includes ALL birds with the only exceptions being pigeons, European starlings, and house sparrows.) Canada has six species not regulated - see Canadian Wildlife Service for those species.