The Basics of Wildlife Rehabilitation
Wildlife rehabilitation is an important activity in which we can all participate. It has to do with caring for orphaned, injured, or sick wild animals with the ultimate intention of releasing the animal back into its natural habitat. Of course, unless you are an expert, such as a veterinarian, this is not something that you can do alone. However, with the help of the professionals in your community, you can take part in this vital process to preserving the natural wildlife around you.
It is a process that involves safely capturing, examining, diagnosing, and treating the animals using proper veterinary and hospital care, feeding, physical therapy, exercise, medicating, and a pre-release conditioning program. Releasing must be carefully planned so that it occurs not only when the animal is ready, but also in the right habitat, location, season, and even weather.
It can be extremely challenging emotionally to take part in wildlife rehabilitation, since there will be some animals that are discovered to be beyond helping, and they will require euthanizing.
There will also be animals who will survive and live quality lives, but which will not be releasable into the wild again. These animals often find good homes in zoos, as educational aids, and for valuable research.
Indeed, as with everything, there are people who would criticize the idea of wildlife rehabilitation, because they believe that nature should be allowed to take its course; that injured and sick animals should be allowed to remain free and let the natural environment choose their fate. However, it should be noted that while that argument is valid, in the majority of cases, it is not "nature" that has caused these animals to be injured, sick, and orphaned.
- high voltage wires,
- children throwing stones,
- clear windows,
- wood cutters,
- oil spills,
- and any number of other issues that harm wild animals.
After having such a negative impact on these animals, wildlife rehabilitation allows people to relieve the suffering of injured and sick wild animals, and releasing them back into the wild where they belong. Similarly, if the damage is great enough, the animals can be humanely euthanized.
Therefore, trained rehabilitators are an important part of returning animals to the wild to reduce the negative impact humans have had on them and their environment.
Proper wildlife rehabilitation is an extremely biologically and ecologically responsible attitude toward all living things.
To become an "official" wildlife rehabilitator, you will need to find out what the requirements are for the license in your state. Though there is no formal education that is required to obtain this license, many states do require that you have experience, for example, working with a licensed wildlife rehabber for a minimum amount of time. Other states also require that you pass an exam to obtain your wildlife rehabilitation license.
If you are interested in contributing to the field of wildlife rehabilitation, the best place for you to get started is with a licensed rehabilitator in your area, with whom you may volunteer for a while.By doing things this way, you will be able to learn what is involved in the entire wildlife rehabilitation, including both the good and the bad. You will be able to find out if it really is for you, and if you want to dedicate more of your time to it under your own license.
You will also learn about the long hours and hard work that the majority of wildlife rehabbers put into their contribution, and that almost all rehabilitation work is done on a volunteer basis. True, there are some paid positions in some centers across the country, however, they are the minority. Most wildlife rehabilitation is strictly voluntary.
You will also need to decide if you want to operate your rehabilitation from your own home, if you want to join with other rehabbers in small centers, or if you want to work in a larger wildlife rehabilitation center. The latter is a great place to volunteer when you are first getting started, whether that is where you actually stay.
Your next step, after volunteering alongside a licensed wildlife rehabber is to join either one or both of the national wildlife rehabilitation organizations. These each offer tremendous resources and information to wildlife rehabilitators. There are also training classes both at the basic and advanced level, which are available around the country to help wildlife rehabilitators provide their very best assistance.
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