Become a Helpline Volunteer

What is the Helpline?

The WRL helpline is a voice messaging system that provides some general tips on what to do for the most common wildlife situations.

Should a caller want to speak directly to someone at WRL for further advice or is certain the animal needs immediate care; they are instructed to leave a message in one of five extensions. These mailboxes are generally grouped by the type of animal and provide further instructions to the caller on what to do with the animal until a volunteer returns their call.

What Do I Have to Do as a Volunteer?

The Helpline volunteers work from their own homes and are provided access to our phone system in order to retrieve messages from the Helpline. There are a series of scheduled shifts throughout the day in increments of 2 hours. The Helpline is open seven days a week, from 9 am to 5 pm November through February, and 9am to 7pm March through October. You can schedule your desired shifts in advance of each month. Helpline volunteers must be at least 18 years or older.

There are typically three types of wildlife situations the volunteers handle:

  • The caller needs advice on how to help an animal that doesn’t appear to be injured, such as a bird getting caught inside a home or a fledgling that is learning to fly.
  • An animal needs immediate care from a licensed rehabilitator or veterinarian; the volunteer will then provide the caller with the appropriate contact information.
  • Animal agencies and veterinarians need a transporter to pick up an animal from their location and to be taken to a rehabber.

How Will I Know What to Tell the Caller?

New volunteers receive training from experienced volunteers, in a series of one-on-one video calls. Additional learning materials and resources are provided to help trainees understand how to diagnose a wildlife situation and what types of advice to provide to the caller.

How Many Calls Are There?

During the winter months, the call volumes for the day are typically less than 10. However, by the end of March, the volume picks up considerably and can range from 30-50 calls per day until early fall.

Is There a Commitment Required from Me?

Because of the time invested by the training volunteers, we ask Helpline volunteers to make an effort to work at least four 2-hour shifts each month for at least 6 months. Many of our volunteers have been with the WRL for several years, as it is a unique and rewarding opportunity to directly help our wildlife.

Interested in becoming a Helpline Volunteer?

Complete our Volunteer Questionnaire to get started or contact us at

Wildlife Rescue League - Viriginia
Wildlife Helpline 703-440-0800