Operating Wildlife Rehabilitation Facilities

This information is intended to familiarize you with the laws, regulations and application procedures for a permit to operate a wildlife rehabilitation facility. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) issues such permits under the authority of Rule 68A-9.006, Florida Administrative Code, and Federal Regulation, 50 CFR 13.

Since "migratory birds" (all birds except the starling English sparrow, quail, turkey and exotics) are involved in most wildlife rehabilitation efforts, additional permits from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), are also required. This is because both state and federal laws protect these birds. Information on federal permitting is available online. However, through an agreement with the USFWS, this permit package covers the initial application requirements for both agencies. After completing the application, please mail it to FWC, Division of Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Office, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-1600.

When we receive your application, our staff will review it for completeness as well as accuracy. The documented experience received with your wildlife rehabilitation application will ascertain if you will be required to take the written examination. The required minimum experience is one year consisting of no less than 1,000 hours.

If you meet the experience requirements without taking the examination, the FWC will assign the nearest Investigator to visit you and make an on-site inspection of your caging facilities. We recommend that you have adequate facilities to humanely house and treat a minimum of twelve (12) specimens of wildlife. This should include enclosures to house both birds and mammals. When all is in order, we will issue a state permit and forward a copy (along with your application) to the USFWS in Atlanta, Georgia, if you wish to rehabilitate "migratory birds." The USFWS will contact you regarding their $50 application fee. Upon receipt of your fee, they will issue your federal permit.

If you are required to take the written rehabilitation examination, we will forward a study guide to you. When you are ready to take the exam, please call the FWC Regional Service Center in your area to make an appointment. After passing the examination with a score of at least 80 percent, the Division of Law Enforcement will proceed with the facility inspection and pelmit issuance as previously described.

A rehabilitation permit is not required for the care or treatment of exotic or nonnative wildlife provided that you are appropriately licensed for such wildlife. This would include Class I, Class II, Class III and venomous reptiles and/or reptiles of concern. Sick or injured exotic or non-native wildlife may not be comingled in the same cage or enclosure with sick, injured or otherwise impaired native wildlife.

Effective January 1, 2008, possessors of captive wildlife, venomous reptiles or reptiles of concern must provide a Critical Incident/Disaster Plan Adobe PDF on form FWCDLE_619 and shall document in writing a course of action to be taken in preparation for disasters or critical incidents. Part A is to be submitted at the time of application or renewal. Part B remains at your facility and is to be made available for inspection.

We appreciate your interest in wildlife rehabilitation. The regulations pertaining to wildlife rehabilitation may be viewed online. If you have any questions, please visit Ask FWC, write to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Division of Law Enforcement, Captive Wildlife Office, 620 South Meridian Street, Tallahassee, Florida 323991600, or call (850) 488-6253.

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