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Wildlife Rehabilitation Permits

The Ohio Division of Wildlife is dedicated to conserving and improving fish and wildlife resources and their habitats, and promoting their use and appreciation by the public so that these resources continue to enhance the quality of life for all Ohioans. Rehabilitation of injured or orphaned native wildlife is an important activity in Ohio, involving hundreds of public and private organizations and individuals.

The Division works in partnership with the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association to:

  • foster a relationship among rehabilitators to improve the quality of care given to native wildlife,
  • promote communication and education, and
  • ensure a rapid response team is available in the event of a catastrophe such as an oil spill.

Persons desiring to rehabilitate orphaned or injured wild animals may apply for a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit (DNR 8987). Applicants must meet the requirements set forth in the OAC 1501:31-25-03 and must have completed the Introduction to Wildlife Rehabilitation Training offered by the Ohio Wildlife Rehabilitators Association (OWRA) or equivalent training.

There are two categories of wildlife rehabilitation. Category I Rehabilitation Permits allow individuals to rehabilitate healthy, orphaned, or non-rabies vector mammals such as squirrels, rabbits and woodchucks. A Category II Rehabilitation Permit allows individuals with at least three years of rehabilitation experience as a Category I Rehabilitator or equivalent to rehabilitate all species of wild animals except rabies-vector species, deer, coyote, bobcat, mute swans and state or federal endangered species, unless otherwise approved by the Chief of the Division of Wildlife. Category II Rehabilitators must have the ability to properly care for wild animals that are diseased, injured, or need rehabilitative care. A limited number of Endangered Species permits are issued at the Chief’s discretion based on training, geographical location and agency need.

Interested persons are encouraged to first volunteer with a permitted rehabilitator to gain the valuable experience necessary to receive their own permit. Permits are issued at the discretion of the Division of Wildlife and may be denied in geographic areas without a viable need for additional rehabilitators or if the applicant does not meet the minimum qualifications.

Qualifications

The following criteria have been established to determine qualifications for the issuance of a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit:

  • The applicant for a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit must submit a completed application (DNR 8987) to the Division of Wildlife thirty (30) days prior to the start of the activity. The applicant must be 18 years of age or older and must show proof of completion of Wildlife Rehabilitation Training offered by the OWRA or equivalent training.
  • Applicants must provide proof that proper facilities for all animals they wish to rehabilitate are available that includes cage and holding requirements as specified in the “Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation in Ohio” Publication 5475.
  • Applicants for Category I and II Rehabilitation Permits must meet qualifications stated above to have their application considered.

FAQs 

What is the difference between Category I & II Rehabilitators?

  • Category I and II permits differ in the wildlife they are able to accept and the requirements for their rehabilitation facilities.
  • Category I permit holders may only rehabilitate healthy, orphaned, non-rabies vector mammals such as squirrels, Eastern cottontail rabbits, and woodchucks.
  • Category II permit holders with the appropriate facility are eligible to rehabilitate all species of animals except rabies-vector species, deer, coyote, bobcat, mute swans and state or federal endangered species unless otherwise approved by the Chief of the Division of Wildlife. Category II permit holders must also have at least three years of rehabilitation experience as a Category I or equivalent. Category II permit holders must have the ability to properly care for wild animals that are diseased, injured or need rehabilitative care.


What do I need to rehabilitate birds?
Only Category II Rehabilitators with appropriate caging are eligible to take in birds. In addition, a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Migratory Bird Rehabilitator Permit is required for migratory species.


Can I accept animals from a Commercial Nuisance Wild Animal Control Operator (CNWACO)? 
No. Animals abandoned because of a purposeful action by the homeowner may not be rehabilitated. Any young from adults trapped or captured as nuisance animals shall not be accepted for rehabilitation. Under Ohio Administrative Code 1501:31-15-03, ALL raccoons, skunks, coyotes, fox and opossums trapped or captured under authority of the nuisance wild animal regulation must be euthanized by the CNWACO or property owner, NOT given to or accepted by a rehabilitator. If a nuisance trapper attempts to give you any animal for rehabilitation, please contact the Wildlife Officer assigned to your county or the District Wildlife Management Supervisor as soon as possible.


Do I have to submit a Veterinary Assistance Voucher (DNR 8960) with every Wildlife Rehabilitation Application?
Yes, a Veterinary Assistance Voucher is required with every permit renewal or submission.


I am a Category I Rehabilitator and have been requested to accept an animal not covered by my permit that needs to be euthanized. Can I accept it and take it to my vet to be euthanized?
Yes. You may accept the animal from the public for transfer to an appropriately permitted rehabilitator or for euthanization by a veterinarian. Non-permitted animals should not be held longer than 48-hours.


I need to make a change to my Rehabilitation permit, what do I need to do?
All permit changes must be requested in writing. An email is acceptable. Please submit your written request to the Permit Coordinator (wildlife.permits@dnr.state.oh.us) or by mail at:

Ohio Division of Wildlife 
Attn: Wildlife Rehabilitation
2045 Morse Rd., Bldg. G
Columbus, OH 43229.

Your request will be reviewed and an updated permit will be mailed out upon approval.