Alabama Wildlife Rehabilitation Policies
It is always best to leave an animal where it was found and trust that your intervention is not required. Human interference and involvement often causes more harm than good and should be avoided. In
Frequently Asked Questions about Wildlife Rehabilitation
I have found a wild animal – can I keep it as a pet?
No. Federal laws govern the possession of most bird species and state laws govern the possession of other wildlife. Having these animals in your care without a permit puts you in violation of these federal and state laws. Conservation Enforcement Officers enforce these regulations with penalties and fines. Wildlife can never be kept as a pet.
I have found a young wild animal that needs help. Can I raise it if I plan to release it?
No. Possession of live native mammals, even if the intent is eventual release, is prohibited unless done under the authority of a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit issued by the Division of Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries. Possession of most native birds is prohibited unless done under the authority of a Migratory Bird Rehabilitation Permit issued by the United States Fish & Wildlife Service. These permits are not issued for individual animals and are not issued after an animal is found.
What do I do if I find an orphaned wild animal that needs help?
In almost all instances, the best thing to do is to leave the animal alone. Most baby animals that are alone are not orphans at all. Birds and mammals are left alone by their parents for long periods of time even when they are very young. When given the chance to remain undisturbed, the parents will typically return.
I’ve been watching all day, but the parent animal is not returning. Can I help now?
No. If you can see whether or not the parent has returned, that means the parent can also see you. Step away from the situation and give time and distance to allow the parent to be comfortable enough to return.
I have already touched the animal. Will its mother reject it?
No. The notion that mothers reject their young once touched by a human is a myth. Even if you have already touched or moved the animal, the best thing to do is to return the animal to an area close to where it was found: even if it is the next day. Once the animal is replaced, leave the situation to allow parents to feel comfortable enough to return.
My cat/dog will kill this animal if I don’t remove it from the area. Can I do this?
No. While it is true that pets cause a large number of wild animal deaths, controlling domestic animals is the obligation and responsibility of the owner. Taking wild animals out of the wild is not a reasonable or legal response to problem pets. Moving a wild animal to a nearby location (ex: other side of a fence) is the most you should do.
Bad Weather is coming. Should I bring young wildlife I find indoors?
No. Wild animals live outside their entire lives. They are able to handle stormy weather conditions and should not be rescued based on weather.
I found an injured animal that will die without help. What should I do?
Leaving the animal alone is typically the best decision. A high mortality rate is common and normal for many species. This natural death toll provides a needed food source and keeps population levels stable. Wildlife reproduces at a much higher rate and frequency than humans: if all of their young survived and also reproduced, their numbers would be unsustainable. Injured adult animals sometimes cannot survive the stress of capture and treatment. In addition, adults are often not releasable because of their injury and must be euthanized. Injured wildlife will defend itself and can cause severe injury to the rescuer.
Who can possess native wildlife?
A wildlife rehabilitation permit is required to possess sick, injured, or orphaned native wildlife. Nobody, even veterinarians, are exempt from this requirement. Neither are well-meaning citizens, animal control agents, government employees such as fire and rescue personnel, police, or those associated with "humane" or animal service organizations.
What is a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
In some instances, wildlife found by the public can be turned over to a Wildlife Rehabilitator. Wildlife Rehabilitators are specifically permitted by the Alabama Department of Conservation to care for native game and nongame mammals with the goal of eventual release. There are a number of organizations and individuals throughout Alabama who are permitted for this purpose. Most bird species must go to a rehabilitator that is permitted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service to care for birds.
How do I find a Wildlife Rehabilitator near me?
Contact your local Wildlife and Freshwater Fisheries district office for information regarding permitted rehabilitators in your area. Please click here for contact information (including names and email addresses) for the appropriate Enforcement and Wildlife Section offices.
What do I do if I want to become a Wildlife Rehabilitator?
Becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator requires an application and approval process. Permits are not issued for animals that are already in your possession. These must immediately be transferred to a permitted rehabilitator.
I would like to learn more about becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator.
The intention of a Wildlife Rehabilitator is to provide a resource for the public by prescribing an appropriate and humane course of action for wildlife in need. Wildlife Rehabilitators are permitted by the State but are volunteers. They must have large amounts of resources in order to carry out their mission: compassion alone does not aid wildlife in need. Rehabilitators invest large amounts of their personal assets to finance the caging, supplies and medical care of their charges. There are minimum caging sizes required to contain individual species. In addition, a great amount of time is required to provide for wild patients. Because of the considerations of time and money, becoming a Wildlife Rehabilitator is not something to be undertaken lightly. Intimate knowledge of the natural history of native species is required in addition to material provisions. Wild animals cannot be raised in a household environment: they are not held and treated as pets. Those that lose their wary behavior because of early association with humans often must be euthanized. Wildlife Rehabilitators must be willing to do this task as well. An application and approval process is required. To apply for a permit for migratory birds, contact the US Fish and Wildlife Service: http://www.fws.gov/forms/3-200-10b.pdf
Wildlife is damaging my home or property. What do I do?
Nuisance animals can be handled by calling one of the many businesses that specialize in wildlife removal. They will assess your situation and can be contracted with to remedy the situation. These businesses can be found online or in the phone book.
I know someone who has a pet raccoon/deer/squirrel. What do I do?
It is not legal to hold native mammals without a state permit. You can report captive wildlife being held illegally by calling 1-800-272-4263 or one of the district offices listed below.