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Explore Wildlife Rehabilitation

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Updated on Dec 04, 2012

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


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

  • 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

  • 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

Jennifer L. Tuso has over 10 years experience developing and teaching science enrichment programs to all ages, from preschoolers to high school students. She holds a degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Biology from CSUS. As a freelance writer, she enjoys sharing her teaching experiences, mishaps and adventures.