Every year wildlife becomes injured, diseased, oiled, or abandoned. Public concern arises as a result of these animals needing assistance to be able to survive in the wild. Although the Department manages on a population rather than on an individual basis, the need for wildlife to receive rehabilitation is recognized. As specified in Washington State law, it is unlawful for private citizens to possess wildlife without a permit. The Department, under the authority of WAC 232-12-275, provides for the issuance of wildlife rehabilitation permits (see: Permit Application Form). A wildlife rehabilitation permit authorizes a wildlife rehabilitator to possess injured, diseased, oiled, or abandoned wildlife for the purpose of rehabilitation and successful release to the wild.
The following requirements will need to be met in order to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator:
- Be a licensed veterinarian or be able to demonstrate six months experience in wildlife rehabilitation, which must include three months during the spring or summer. Education in wildlife rehabilitation may be considered as an appropriate substitute for experience.
- If you are not a veterinarian, you will need to have a principal veterinarian who is willing to sponsor you and provide guidance to you in the medical treatment of injured, diseased or abandoned wildlife.
- Complete a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit Application form.
- Successfully complete the written wildlife rehabilitation exam with 80% or more correct. You will need to take the General Exam regardless of the species you will be rehabilitating. If you are interested in rehabilitating raptors, you will need to take and pass with at least 80% correct the Raptor Exam. Applicants may take the exam again if they fail, but tests may not be taken more than two times in a 12-month period and the tests must be taken at least 90 days apart.
- Build appropriate housing and care facilities for your size of facility. See Facility Inspection Form (many criteria on this form do not apply to smaller facilities) and Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility and Care Standards booklet; successfully pass inspection of your facilities to ensure compliance with the criteria outlined in the and section (24) of WAC 232-12-275 if you wish to rehabilitate oiled birds.
Once you meet all of the requirements listed above, a permit will be issued to you. You will need to report all changes on your permit (such as the addition of species) to have your permit continue to be valid.
You have a right to appeal the Department’s decision regarding your wildlife rehabilitation permit pursuant to Chapter 34.05 RCW, Administrative Procedures Act.
- A wildlife rehabilitation permit from the Department does not exempt the wildlife rehabilitator from complying with other state, federal, county, and city laws and regulations. A federal wildlife rehabilitation permit is needed to rehabilitate migratory birds (http://www.fws.gov/pacific/migratorybirds/permits.html).
- In compliance with Washington State law, wildlife remains the property of the state and is subject to control by the state.
- It is unlawful to 1) publicly display wildlife while it is undergoing rehabilitation and 2) use wildlife being held for rehabilitation for propagation.
- The Department will make available to the public and wildlife rehabilitation permittees a list of names, addresses and telephone numbers of wildlife rehabilitation permit holders and the species they are authorized to rehabilitate.
- Injured or diseased wildlife requiring treatment by a licensed veterinarian will receive such treatment as soon as possible.
Wildlife under rehabilitation will be maintained in a separate enclosure from domestic or exotic wildlife to prevent the possibility of disease transmission.
- The regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator will be notified of wildlife known to have died of the following diseases: West Nile virus, white-nose syndrome, avian cholera, avian pos, duck viral enteritis, psittacosis, rabies, environmental toxin or contaminant, canine distermper, tuberculosis, Newcastle disease, salmonellosis, hair loss, deer adenovirus, Q-fever (coxiellosis), plague, leptospirosis, tularemia.
- The Director may limit the numbers and species of wildlife to be rehabilitated at a wildlife rehabilitation facility based on the wildlife rehabilitator’s qualifications and their ability to comply with the Wildlife Rehabilitation Facility and Care Standards. Oiled bird rehabilitation facilities must comply with the facility requirements in section 24 of WAC 232-12-275. When treating oiled birds, the facility requirements in section 24 take precedence.
- Fish and Wildlife Enforcement Officers may inspect at reasonable times and in a reasonable manner the wildlife, permits, records, and wildlife rehabilitation facility of any wildlife rehabilitator.
- The regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator will be notified within 24 hours when a state endangered or threatened wildlife species, or an oiled bird, is received at a wildlife rehabilitation facility. The regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator will be notified within 72 hours when a state sensitive species or marked, tagged, or banded wildlife is received at the wildlife rehabilitation facility.
- The holder of a wildlife rehabilitation permit who is authorized to rehabilitate endangered or threatened species must, prior to release, notify the regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator when an endangered or threatened species is ready for release. When releasing rehabilitated wildlife that had been oiled the regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator will be notified of the number of birds being released, the species of birds being released, the proposed location of the release, and the proposed date/time of release.
- The regional wildlife rehabilitation coordinator will be notified within 24 hours of any state endangered or threatened species, or oiled bird, which dies. Live endangered or threatened species unsuitable for return to the wildlife shall be reported to the Department as soon as the determination is made. Endangered or threatened species, or oiled bird, will not be disposed of or euthanized without prior Department approval.
- Except as authorized by the Department, rehabilitated wildlife will be released as soon as possible, but no later than 180 days, into its proper habitat in the same area as recovered. Rehabilitated oiled birds shall only be released in the same area as recovered when the threat of becoming re-oiled no longer exists. If the area that they were recovered in is not clean enough to allow for their release at that location, department approval is required prior to releasing rehabilitated oiled birds in another location.
- When a wildlife rehabilitator determines wildlife is not suitable for release (except endangered or threatened species, see above), one of the following options will be exercised.
- Research project with required permits;
- Approved breeding projects;
- Orphan imprinting as approved by the Department; or
- The rehabilitator will dispose of dead wildlife (except threatened or endangered species, see above) by exercising one of the following options:
- Deposit at an approved university or college museum in the state of Washington;
- Research project with required permits;
- Bury, incinerate, or provide to licensed rendering facility.
- Dead oiled birds shall not be disposed of without prior department approval.