What is a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
A wildlife rehabilitator is a person licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia (and in some cases by the Federal Government as well) to rehabilitate sick, injured and orphaned wildlife in order to release them back into the wild. In Virginia, most wildlife rehabilitators work from their own homes. They do not receive payment for their services. Care Providers assist rehabilitators, but do not keep animals in their homes.
Why it matters
Each year thousands of sick, injured and orphaned animals get a second chance at life, thanks to Virginia’s wildlife rehabilitators. Most of these animals are injured as a result, either directly or indirectly, of human actions. The number of animals in need of help is overwhelming, and more dedicated people are needed to care for them until they can be returned to the wild.
Wildlife rehabilitation contributes to keeping ecosystems intact by protecting the species that comprise them. Every species has a role in the ecosystem that helps the whole ecosystem to function.
Responsible Stewardship of Wildlife
Wildlife is everyone’s responsibility. Wildlife rehabilitation helps animals impacted by human activities. Humans have the ability to completely alter the natural world which can damage native habitats and harm animals. Taking action to undo the harm caused by human actions will protect ecosystems and make sure our wildlife populations stay healthy.
All life depends on a fully functional planet to survive and thrive. Biodiversity, the vast array of plants, animals, and ecosystems, is the life support system of our planet and underpins the healthy ecosystems that provide us food, clean air and water, stable climate, and medicines. No one animal exists in isolation – not even us. Removing just one native species can have a cascading effect on the surrounding ecosystem.
Find a Wildlife Rehabilitator in your state
How to Become a Wildlife Rehabilitator
The following requirements are for those interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator in the State of Virginia. If you live outside of Virginia, please use our list of rehabilitation resources to find appropriate resources in your state.
1. Complete 6 Hours of Continuing Education
Complete 6 hours of continuing education.
2. Set Up a Designated Space
3. Apply for a State Permit
Apply for a permit from Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources and pass an in-home inspection.
4. Complete 2-Year Apprenticeship
How Wildlife Rescue League supports Wildlife Rehabilitators
Wildlife Rescue League is a non-profit organization dedicated to supporting the work of wildlife rehabilitators located throughout the Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.All our services are performed by volunteers and offered free of charge to the members of the public.
Field calls from the public
Wildlife Rescue League runs a Wildlife Helpline that fields calls from the public and provides information, resources and referrals to area rehabilitators and veterinary clinics.
How you can help
Wildlife Rescue League does not receive any local, state or federal funding. We are totally dependent on donations from the public.
Become a rehabilitator
Become a wildlife rehabilitator or care provider. Learn how to get started.
Become a Member
Join Wildlife Rescue League as a member! Membership benefits include invites to wildlife-related classes and workshop as well as member-only meetings.