Wildlife Rehabilitation

General Information

The wildlife rehabilitation permit authorizes a person to rescue, raise, and arrange for veterinary medical care for orphaned, sick, displaced, or injured native wildlife with the prudent goal of releasing the wildlife back to its natural habitat.

A wildlife rehabilitation permit shall be obtained before possessing live native wildlife. Removing young wildlife from the wild is illegal; you are risking citation, and a permit will not be issued for illegally taken wildlife. These animals should be left in the wild or returned there, and legal recourse for injured and orphaned wildlife is the prompt transfer of these animals to a presently permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

Mammal, reptile, and amphibian rehabilitation require only this state permit.

In order to hold and rehabilitate federally protected birds (Migratory Bird Treaty Act), including raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl, a person shall have both a state wildlife rehabilitation permit and a federal rehabilitation permit. Information on the United States Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) Migratory Bird rehabilitation permits can be found here. USFWS requires proof of a state permit before issuing the federal permit. Therefore, KDFWR will issue a rehabilitation permit for birds, but it will be invalid until you also possess the federal permit.​​

Wildlife rehabilitators that may exhibit wildlife for educational purposes must comply with USDA Animal Welfare Act licensing requirements. If you are exhibiting wildlife for remuneration, including donations and regardless of non-profit status, you may be required to have a valid Class “C” Exhibitors License issued by USDA-APHIS-Animal Care. It is your responsibility to comply with all state and federal laws. If you have questions regarding federal USDA licensing requirements or need to obtain this license, please call the USDA-APHIS-Animal Care Eastern Region office at 919-855-7100.

Issuance Cycle

Wildlife rehabilitation permits are valid from January 1st thru December 31st.

Application Process

To obtain the wildlife rehabilitation permit, a person shall:

  1. Be at least 18 years old;
  2. Not also hold a captive wildlife permit;
  3. Prepare facilities that comply with theMinimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation for at least the species you plan to accept;
  4. Have their facilities inspected by a KDFWR Conservation Officer to receive their required signature on the permit application if compliance is demonstrated;
  5. Submit proof of successful completion of the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) course “Basic Rehabilitation.” 
    • Licensed veterinarians are exempt from the course requirement
    • See Upcoming IWRC Basic Rehabilitation Classes. If no classes are currently scheduled, call the IWRC at 866-871-1869 to inquire about future availability.
  6. Submit a $25 application fee and complete a wildlife rehabilitation permit application.
  7. File an annual report with the department of the previous year's activity. 


301 KAR 2:075.  Wildlife rehabilitation permit


Wildlife rehabilitators shall file an annual report with the department of the previous year's activity.​