Citizens for the Preservation of Wildlife, Inc.

Waterfowl Rescue, Rehabilitate, and Release


A wildlife rehabilitator, also known as a "rehabber," is a professionally trained person, who provides medical care to injured, sick, or orphaned wildlife. The goal of the rehabber is to medically treat the animal, so that it may return back to its natural habitat and family. The goal is not to make pets out of wildlife, to display them around humans, or to release any wildlife with handicaps in which they may not be able to protect themselves, not healthy enough to thrive unable to fit in with other wildlife, or become vulnerable to predators.

The rehabber is responsible for working with Veterinarians to treat injured wildlife. The rehabber is responsible for providing diet and nutrition suitable to the species nutritional requirements. The rehabber is responsible for providing safe and sanitary shelter, as close as possible to the natural habitat, until the animal has recovered and can be returned to its own habitat to live independently.

The rehabber needs to obtain knowledge and training specific to the nature, behavior, diseases, causation of illnesses, and how to diagnose basic injuries and wounds. The rehabber should also have training on anatomy of the species, first aid training, knowledge in triage medical treatment, and training in drugs and drug administration. Wildlife rehabbers are required to attend wildlife training annually to keep their Federal or State permit legal and updated.

Federal law protects most birds, therefore, a Special Purpose Federal permit (under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) is required to handle and rehab birds and Migratory Birds. To rehab all other wildlife, a State permit is required. To find out how to obtain your Federal permit, go to:

We receive thousands of calls from communities all over the Country every year. We are referred by local Veterinarian hospitals, Animal shelters, and compassionate citizens who see injured waterfowl, and want to find help.



To become a rehabber, you will first need to decide what species you would like to work with.
Locate a rehabber in your area who has extensive experience rehabbing those animals. To find a list of rehabbers in your area, call your local Animal Shelter, Humane Society, or visit this web site:
Put in lots of volunteer time with a permitted rehabber before you make your final decision. Find out all you can about the nature of the animal, medical treatments, time, commitment, and finances (rehabbers pay for the cost of everything).


Then apply for your state permit. You will need to do a 2-year apprenticeship program before you may legally obtain a permit to rehab. During your 2-year apprenticeship program, a legally permitted rehabber will supervise you. To obtain the rehab application, call Dept. of Game & Inland Fisheries: (804) 367-1000.
Check out local zoning/county ordinances/regulations, to be sure you can possess wildlife in your neighborhood.
If you conduct rescues, make sure you have liability insurance to cover any persons who will be doing rescues, and obtain permission enter private property.

Rehabbing wildlife is very time consuming and there is no pay involved. Rehabbers work each and every day, all year long. Rehabbers work on weekends, evening, all hours of the day or night, and all holidays. Do not let any of this information stop you though. Injured, sick, orphaned, and at risk wildlife need good compassionate people to devote their time to making their lives better.