License Description

Wildlife rehabilitation is the volunteer practice of providing care and treatment to injured or orphaned wild animals or birds until such time as those animals are at an adequate level of health to be successfully returned to their natural environment. Required care may range from hourly feedings of orphaned animals to veterinary treatment of sick or injured animals. Time and financial requirements for volunteer wildlife rehabilitators can be very demanding, especially in the spring when large numbers of animals, which people mistake as being "orphaned," are found by the public.

Individuals who do not possess a captivity license for rehabilitation may take temporary possession of injured, crippled, or orphaned wild animals or wild birds, provided they are surrendered to a North Carolina licensed veterinarian or an individual license under this Rule within 24 hours of taking possession of such animals. 

Due to the sensitive nature of rehabilitating animals, it is important for the applicant to understand the special requirements and responsibilities associated with this type of activity. Please review all the information below before submitting a Captivity License for Rehabilitation application. 

License Restrictions, Rules, and Conditions

Captivity License for Rehabilitation are issued to a single individual, at least 18 years of age or older, for a specific location for the purpose of providing care and treatment to injured or orphaned wild animals or birds until such time as those animals are at an adequate level of health to be successfully returned to their natural environment. Rehabilitation can only occur at the location specified on the license.

Wildlife rehabilitators are not authorized to rehabilitate feral swine, nutria, coyote, adult black bear, adult white-tailed deer, or endangered, threatened or special concern species.

A Captivity License for Rehabilitation shall not be issued for the purposed of holding wild animals or wild birds as pets, for educational, exhibition or scientific purposes, dog training, hunting or to allow wild animals or wild birds to be acquired unlawfully. 

Wild animals and wild birds held under a wildlife rehabilitation license may only be handled for rehabilitation only, animals may not be used for any other purpose, including educational activities. All wild animals and wild birds undergoing rehabilitation shall be separated from pets, domestic animals, livestock, and non-native animals. All wild animals shall be kept in separate enclosures by species. If rehabilitation is occurring in a residence the applicant shall have a designated, separate rooms or areas used only for housing, treatment, and rehabilitation. 

Individuals who do not possess a captivity license for rehabilitation may take temporary possession of injured, crippled, or orphaned wild animals or wild birds, provided they are surrendered to a North Carolina licensed veterinarian or an individual license under this Rule within 24 hours of taking possession of such animals.

 

Captivity License for Rehabilitation are issued at two levels based on experience:

 

Apprentice level - Individuals applying for a Captivity License for Rehabilitation that have never held this license in North Carolina or a similar license in another state shall be designated as an apprentice. The apprentice shall designate a mentor with a valid captivity license for rehabilitation in North Carolina, who has held that, license for two or more years. An apprentice must complete at least 12 months of supervised rehabilitation activities under a licensed rehabilitator before they can apply for a Captivity License for Rehabilitation. An apprentice license shall only authorize the possession of squirrels, rabbits, and opossums. 

 

Rehabilitator level - Individuals applying for a Captivity License for Rehabilitation that has held an Apprentice license for 12 months in North Carolina or a similar license in another state. Wildlife rehabilitators that are upgrading from an Apprentice License to a Captivity License for Rehabilitation must submit a Mentor Upgrade Form from the designated mentor with their application. Wildlife rehabilitators transferring from another state must include a copy of their out of state wildlife rehabilitation license with the wildlife rehabilitation license application. 

 

Migratory Bird Categories (Songbirds, Raptors, Waterfowl) - Applicant must provide a copy of their federal rehabilitation permit to be eligible to rehabilitate migratory birds in North Carolina, including songbirds, raptors, or waterfowl. 

 

White-tailed Deer Fawn Category - Only individuals with the White-tailed deer fawn category may possess, rehabilitate, or release fawns.  No fawn rehabilitation permit will be issued until the applicant has constructed or acquired a facility for keeping fawns that complies with the requirements listed below and the adequacy of such facility has been verified on inspection by a representative of the Commission.

The minimum pen size for a primary fawn rehabilitator is 10 x 20 x 6 feet (width x length x height). The minimum pen size for a secondary fawn rehabilitator is 10 x 10 x 6 feet. We recommend that pen size should be increase as the number of fawns accepted at your facility increase during the fawn season. 

The pen must be placed in an area away from any dog and human activity, both visibly and audibly. We recommend the pen be covered with fencing or other durable material to prevent predators, deer, or other wildlife from gaining access into the pen. The pen should be on a well-drained site containing natural or man-made shelter. The pen and shelters must be kept free of exposed wire, nails, or other protrusions that may cause injury to the fawns.

 

Rabies Species Category - Only individuals with the rabies species category may possess, rehabilitate or release rabies species. To become a license to rehabilitate rabies species, an individual shall meet all requirements of the basic captivity license for rehabilitation. Applicants shall have held an active rehabilitation license within or outside of the state of at least the previous three years and rehabilitated during the time. Applicants must have completed 12 hours of rabies or rabies species-specific training or a combination thereof. Applicants must certify up-to-date rabies immunization in accordance with the CDC. Proof immunization to demonstrate that the vaccine was administered shall be provided upon the request of the Commission or authorized representative and shall be kept at the license holder's facility. 

Except for bats, rehabilitation and release of rabies species is not authorized in counties where the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Oral Rabies Vaccination (ORV) program is conducted, as specified by the United States Department of Agriculture-Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service at www.aphis.usda.gov.

 

Volunteers or individuals under the age of 18 may provide assistance to a licensed rehabilitator at their licensed facility without needing a license.

This is an annual license that expires on December 31st of each year.

Download the current Wildlife Rehabilitation License Rules:

 

 

How to Obtain License

Fill out a completed Captivity License for Rehabilitation (apprenticeor Captivity License for Rehabilitation (basic) application and submit to the Commission address listed at the bottom of the form. This license has a $10.00 application/renewal fee plus a $2.00 transaction fee which may be paid by:

  • To pay by credit card over the phone, call 1-888-248-6834 during normal business hours (Monday through Friday, 8:00 am to 5:00 pm).
  • To pay by check or money order, make payable to NC Wildlife Resources Commission.
 

 

Download the License Forms

License Contact Information

 

Address:   North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission 
Customer Service Section
1707 Mail Service Center
Raleigh, NC 27699-1700
   
 Phone: 1-888-248-6834 or  919 707- 0391
 Fax: 919-707-0292