Become Wildlife Rehabilitator or Caregiver
What is a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
A wildlife rehabilitator is a volunteer who is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia (and in some cases by the Federal Government as well) to rehabilitate 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. Caregivers assist rehabilitators, but do not keep animals in their homes.
Why Become a Wildlife Rehabilitator
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. If you love animals and want to join a network of volunteers deeply committed to preserving Virginia’s native wildlife, read further about becoming a licensed rehabilitator.
Steps to Becoming a Rehabilitator
Read the articles on this website about wildlife rehabilitation. Visit a wildlife or nature center to learn more about Virginia’s native wildlife. This will help you decide what species you are best suited to care for. In Virginia rehabilitators are licensed to care for reptiles, mammals and birds.
Find a Sponsor
To become a licensed rehabilitator in Virginia you must complete a two-year apprenticeship, during which you may care for healthy orphaned animals in your home. Your sponsor will instruct you on initial caging requirements and facilities.
If you live in Northern Virginia (the cities of Alexandria, Falls Church, Fairfax, Manassas and Manassas Park, and the counties of Fairfax, Loudoun, Prince William, and Fauquier) and need to find a sponsor or want to talk about becoming a rehabilitator, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
6 Hours of Continuing Education
Complete six hours of continuing education.
Set up a Designated Space
Have your designated space for wildlife set up and ready for inspection prior to submitting an application
Apply for a State Permit
To receive an application, call the Virginia Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-367-1076 or http://www.dgif.state.va.us/forms/PERM/PERM-044.pdf. After filing for a permit, the game warden will perform an in-home visit, and if approved, you may begin caring for healthy orphaned animals in your home.
Apprentice rehabilitators may accept animals only from their sponsors, and not the general public.
To rehabilitate song birds, you must also apply for a permit from the US Fish and Wildlife Service after completion of the apprenticeship.
Ongoing Continuing Education
Enroll in Six Hours of Continuing Education in Wildlife Rehabilitation Each Year: Classes are available through WRL, the Wildlife Center of Virginia and other sources. They usually take place on weekends.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do rehabilitators get paid?
How long does it take to become a licensed rehabilitator?
Are there costs involved in becoming a rehabilitator?
What are the requirements for caging and facilities?
Is rehabilitation a full-time activity?
What if I want to help but can’t keep animals in my home?
Upcoming Rehabilitator Training
Interested in becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator or Caregiver?
Complete our Volunteer Questionnaire to get started or contact us at email@example.com