FWC Commissioners review proposed rule revisions for wildlife rehabilitation

Posted 12/6/23

The proposed amendments will increase public safety, improve animal welfare...

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already have an account? Log in to continue. Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in
I am anchor

FWC Commissioners review proposed rule revisions for wildlife rehabilitation


TALLAHASSEE — At their December meeting, Commissioners gave Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) staff approval to advertise proposed changes to rules pertaining to the rehabilitation of native wildlife and to hold at least one more additional public meeting. The proposed amendments will increase public safety, improve animal welfare, clarify current rule language, increase professionalism and update requirements for wildlife rehabilitation permittees. Commissioners directed staff to continue stakeholder outreach and present final rules for approval at a future commission meeting.

“I believe the Captive Wildlife staff did a phenomenal job incorporating the feedback they received from stakeholders in the proposed rule changes,” said FWC Commission Chairman Rodney Barreto. “Everyone may not get everything they want but we will hold additional meetings to make sure your voices are heard.”

Permitted wildlife rehabilitators provide support to FWC’s conservation efforts. Currently, there are 175 permitted wildlife rehabilitators throughout the state. They regularly take in wildlife ranging anywhere from orphaned racoons to injured hawks, and many species in between. Wildlife rehabilitators generally have a breadth of knowledge spanning multiple species and types of animals and can perform basic medical care as necessary. The FWC maintains and publishes a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators by county to allow the general public to contact the permitted wildlife rehabilitators directly when wildlife in need is found.

The proposed changes are wide ranging and include a number of both major and minor amendments to several areas, including permitting, applicant qualifications, wildlife care and education requirements. The revision would create an apprentice level permit for wildlife rehabilitation, prohibit more than one general rehabilitator from operating at the same location, require continuing education for general wildlife rehabilitators and change requirements for the location and duties of off-site volunteers.

FWC captive wildlife staff held 14 public meetings across the state, beginning in the summer of 2022, which were well attended by area wildlife rehabilitation permittees and interested parties. Staff received feedback from stakeholders in person, over the phone and online and have incorporated many thoughtful suggestions into the proposed rule changes, including new and increased training or experience requirements for hard-to rehab species, continuing education requirements for general rehabilitators and establishing a maximum distance for off-site volunteers.

More information and a list of wildlife rehabilitators can be found at MyFWC.com/conservation by choosing “How You Can Conserve” then “Living with Wildlife and Preventing Wildlife Conflicts” and “Injured and Orphaned Wildlife.”

FWC, rehabilitation, native, wildlife