Wildlife rehabilitators are individuals, veterinarians, and organizations that have been granted wildlife rehabilitation permits in accordance with 321 CMR 2.13. Individuals with Massachusetts state wildlife rehabilitation permits may legally possess and treat birds, mammals, reptiles, and amphibians with the exception of migratory birds, white-tailed deer, moose, black bear, venomous snakes, and endangered or threatened species.
Rehabilitators may not charge fees for their services, but will gratefully accept donations to help defray their costs. Only people who are licensed rehabilitators, or veterinarians who occasionally treat wildlife on an emergency basis, may legally care for wildlife.
Anyone interested in becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator is encouraged to volunteer with an established rehabilitator to gain an understanding of the time and commitment involved, as well as to gain knowledge of the skills and techniques required.
Please see the information package to the right for detailed information on how to obtain a wildlife rehabilitation permit, as well as wildlife rehabilitation regulations specific to Massachusetts. For further information on permit prerequisites and application procedures, please contact Jennifer Longsdorf at the Field Headquarters at 508-389-6360. For information on permit renewals and annual reporting, please contact Bob Arini at the MassWildlife Boston office at 617-626-1575.
A statewide association, Wildlife Rehabilitators Association of Massachusetts (WRAM, Inc.), hosts meetings and provides a network for member wildlife rehabilitators. WRAM is a non-profit organization that has been committed to the professionalism of Wildlife Rehabilitation in Massachusetts since 1992.
Finding a Sick or Injured Animal
If you find a sick or injured animal, it is important to locate a licensed rehabilitator. Licensed rehabilitators will provide care with the ultimate goal of release back into the wild.
Many rehabilitators specialize in caring for certain types of wildlife, such as songbirds or small mammals; however, a wildlife rehabilitation permit allows permittees to accept all authorized wildlife.
Call the rehabilitator first to find out which wildlife species he or she generally accepts before trying to capture or transport an animal for care. Rehabilitators are usually unable to respond to pick up injured wildlife, but they will provide advice on the best procedures for safely collecting an animal and will offer directions to their facility. Veterinarians are legally allowed to provide emergency medical services for injured wildlife, but should then turn an animal over to a licensed rehabilitator for further care until the animal is ready for release. Some veterinarians are also wildlife rehabilitators and are noted in the list of wildlife rehabilitators.
Finding Young Animals or Birds
If you care, leave them there! If you find a young animal or bird that appears to be abandoned, do not pick it up! Many species of adult animals, such as rabbits and owls, limit the number of daily visits to their young. This prevents predators from discovering the location of newborns or hatchlings.
Leave the area immediately!
If you find a bird and have already handled it, place the bird back in the nest or in a tree or shrub close by. Birds lack a sense of smell, and will not reject a youngster that is placed back in the nest. Many backyard birds frequently outgrow their nest and leave days before they can fly. The parent birds will continue to care for their young, even away from the nest, so do not pick up the fledglings. To protect the young birds, keep cats and dogs away and/or move the chick to the nearest shrub or natural cover. Then leave the area and allow the parent birds to respond to the food-begging calls of their young.
Never pick up a deer fawn. White-tailed deer fawns use their spotted coats as camouflage and remain motionless to avoid detection from potential predators, including humans. If you see a fawn curled up at the edge of a path or field, leave the area immediately and do not return. Your presence will prevent the doe from returning to her fawn for periodic nursing. Wildlife rehabilitators are not authorized to accept deer fawn.