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Information for veterinarians and licensed wildlife rehabilitators

Wildlife rehabilitators and veterinarians who intend to treat wild animals must follow special rules. See details below.

Every permitted wildlife rehabilitator is required to identify a consulting veterinarian. Any medical procedures for which a veterinary license is required, such as surgery or the prescription of drugs, is typically done by the consulting veterinarian, but may be done by any veterinarian licensed in Massachusetts. These services are generally donated. While it is unlawful for anyone to charge a fee to accept a wild animal for rehabilitation, a wildlife rehabilitator may be responsible for veterinary consultation or services [321 CMR 2.13(23)].  

Any veterinarian licensed in Massachusetts who intends to rehabilitate animals on a regular basis (≥ 6 animals annually), or who intends to advertise or promote their services as a wildlife rehabilitator, must receive a wildlife rehabilitation permit from MassWildlife. Veterinarians are exempt from some of the permitting requirements, including the exam and fee [321 CMR 2.13(15)].

Any veterinarian licensed in Massachusetts is authorized in regulation to rehabilitate or euthanize individual animals on an emergency basis, but must meet all of the requirements of 321 CMR 2.13, including the submission of an annual report to MassWildlife by January 31st for the preceding calendar year.

Veterinarians who are not permitted as a wildlife rehabilitator, but who provide care to wildlife should communicate directly with MassWildlife the next business day to determine how long the animal should stay under the veterinarian’s care. Typically after the initial medical treatment, these animals should be transferred to a rehabilitator. Additionally, veterinarians who perform humane euthanasia on wildlife must notify MassWildlife immediately. Veterinarians may not treat deer, moose, or bear, except to humanely euthanize white-tailed deer.

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