Explore Wildlife Rehabilitation

Author: Jennifer L. Tuso

Grade Level: 9th - 12th; Type: Life Science


The objective is to learn what wildlife rehabilitators do and about the process of wildlife rehabilitation. 

Research Questions:

  • What types of animals are found in wildlife rehabilitation centers?
  • What permits are needed to be a wildlife rehabilitator? Are there any other state or federal laws that apply to wildlife rehabilitation?
  • What education and experience is needed to be a wildlife rehabilitator?
  • Why do animals end up in a wildlife rehabilitation centers?
  • What happens to an animal from the intake to release stages while at a center?
  • Are there differences in the care of different species?
  • What does it cost to rehabilitate a wild animal?

Thousands of birds, mammals and reptiles are injured due to human activity and cared for by wildlife rehabilitators every year. The process of diagnosing, treating and releasing a wild animal takes a unique set of skills and resources. By visiting a local wildlife rehabilitation center, students can learn about this process, the animals that need care and present their findings to educate others. 


  • Local wildlife rehabilitation center
  • Display board
  • Photographs
  • Examples of tools used during wildlife rehabilitation can be made for demonstration or borrowed from a local center (for example, medical records, “donuts”, feeding tools, different foods)
  • X-rays of animals can be borrowed from local centers

Experimental Procedure:

  • Conduct background research on the topic of wildlife rehabilitation
  • Contact a local wildlife rehabilitation center to schedule a tour and interview staff and/or volunteers
  • Attend a local wildlife rehabilitation center’s volunteer organization
  • Offer to volunteer your time at the wildlife rehabilitation center – this may be dependent on any age restrictions the center has 


  • Wildlife Rehabilitation – the act of caring for, and treating, injured and sick native wild animals with the intention of rereleasing the animal back into its native habitat
  • Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 – Treaty between the U.S., Canada and other countries that protects native birds making it illegal in part to “pursue, hunt, take, capture, kill, attempt to take, capture or kill, possess,. . . for the protection of migratory birds . . . or any part, nest, or egg of any such bird." (16 U.S.C. 703)
  • U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – the federal agency responsible for enforcing federal laws regarding wildlife
  • State Department of Fish and Game (or Game and Fish) – the local state agency responsible for enforcing state laws and regulations regarding wildlife 


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918

International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association


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