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Rehabilitation of Native Wildlife

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) has been detected in Florida. If you see a sick or abnormally thin deer or deer dead of unknown causes, please report its location to the CWD hotline: (866) CWD-WATCH (293-9282).

An Executive Order has been issued, which contains additional information affecting captive game farms, hunt preserves, and rehabilitators.

For additional information regarding CWD and the CWD event in Florida, visit our CWD page.

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.

To submit a Wildlife Rehabilitation Permit application, you must apply online through Go Outdoors Florida.

When we receive your application, our staff will review it for completeness as well as accuracy. New applicants must provide documentation demonstrating the required minimum experience, which consists of no less than one year and 1,000 hours in the care of sick, injured, orphaned, or otherwise impaired wildlife. If you do not possess the minimum experience requirement, you will be required to take the written examination.

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 Office in your area to make an appointment. You must pass the examination with a score of at least 80 percent before a permit will be issued. 

Once you meet the experience requirements or pass 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.

Since migratory birds (including all birds native to Florida, except turkey and quail) 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. Visit USFWS migratory bird webpage to learn more about federal permits required to rehabilitate migratory birds.

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. 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.

We appreciate your interest in wildlife rehabilitation. Visit our Rules and Regulations page for links to rules pertaining to captive wildlife in Florida.

Native animals from the wild (including injured, orphaned, or abandoned native animals) are NEVER eligible to be kept as personal pets in Florida. Personal pet permits are only issued for animals which are obtained from a legal source. Any injured, orphaned, or abandoned native animals must be brought to a permitted wildlife rehabilitator for rehabilitation. Caring for sick, injured, or orphaned native wildlife beyond the time necessary to transport the animal to a permitted rehabilitator is against the law.

Permitted Wildlife Rehabilitators

Contact Information

If you have any questions, please contact the Captive Wildlife Office.

Phone: (850) 488-6253
Mail: Captive Wildlife Office, 620 S Meridian Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399