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Wildlife Rehabilitator License

This license authorizes a New York resident to rehabilitate or care for injured or young orphaned wildlife for their return back to the wild.

License Details

License Types

There are 2 license types with subclasses for the wildlife rehabilitator license:

  • General Wildlife Rehabilitator - Classes I, II*, and Assistant
    • Base/starting license for all rehabilitators.
  • Rabies Vector Species Wildlife Rehabilitator - Classes I, II*, and Assistant
    • Can handle and care for "rabies vector species" of bats, raccoons and skunks.

* Class II licenses authorize a rehabilitator to have a licensed assistant help care for wildlife under their supervision.

Fee & License Duration

Class I or II Licenses

  • Fee: No Fee
  • License Duration: 5-years

Assistant Licenses

  • Fee: No Fee
  • License Duration: 1-year

Age Requirement

16-years of age and older

What This License Allows

  • Providing care for injured or debilitated wildlife for release back to the wild, including most of the following:
    • Mammals
    • Reptiles & amphibians
    • Unregulated bird species (i.e. pigeons, European starlings, house sparrows)
    • Some regulated game birds (i.e. turkey, pheasant, grouse)
  • Capturing, housing, feeding, and providing emergency treatment to injured wildlife.

What This License Does Not Allow

  • Caring for the following protected species without an appropriate federal permit:
    • Birds protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (songbirds, raptors, etc.). A migratory bird rehabilitation permit (External Link) from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services is needed.
    • Marine mammals protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act. A federal marine mammal permit (External Link) from National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is needed.
  • Keeping animals long-term.
  • Displaying or exhibiting animals to the public.
  • Rehabilitating domestic animals.
  • Rehabilitate wild white-tailed deer or moose from an established chronic wasting disease (CWD) containment area. Currently, no containment area exists in New York.

How to Apply

Applying for a Wildlife Rehabilitator License

rehabiltator exam study guide cover image
Download the exam study guide (PDF) (2 MB)
and practice exam booklet (PDF) (1.2 MB)
to prepare for the exam

  1. Pass the wildlife rehabilitator examination with a score of 80% or higher.
  2. After passing the exam, an application packet will be sent by mail with further instructions on how to apply, including:
    • Getting 2 written statements from references outlining your character and reputation in the community.
    • Setting up an interview with a DEC wildlife manager or representative.
  3. Complete and submit the Wildlife Rehabilitator License Application (sent with a passing exam letter)

Applying/Upgrading to a General Class II License

Upgrading to a General Wildlife Rehabilitator Class II

  1. Be a Class I General Wildlife Rehabilitator for at least 2 years.
  2. Submit outline of training methods and procedures for assistants.

Applying/Upgrading to a Rabies Vector Species License

Upgrading to Rabies Vector Species (RVS) Class I License

  1. Be a Class I General Wildlife Rehabilitator for at least 2 years
  2. Complete the 8-hour RVS training course. Offered once per year at the annual Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Conference (External Link).
  3. Have animal facility inspected by the Dept. of Agriculture and Markets
  4. Have current pre-exposure rabies vaccination
  5. Submit application (supplied at course), certificate of course completion, proof of rabies vaccination, and facility inspection report to DEC's Special Licenses Unit for review and approval.

Upgrading to a Rabies Vector Species Class II License

  1. Complete all upgrade steps for Class I RVS
  2. Submit outline of training methods and procedures for assistants.

Applying for an Assistant License

For General Assistant Licenses:

  1. Have a Class II rehabilitator submit your name and contact information, including address, phone and email to DEC's Special Licenses Unit.

For Rabies Vector Species Assistant Licenses

  1. Complete step 1 above for General Assistant licenses
  2. Complete the 8-hour RVS training course. Offered once per year at the annual Wildlife Rehabilitation Council Conference (External Link).
  3. Have a current pre-exposure rabies vaccination
  4. Submit application (supplied at course), certificate of course completion, and proof of vaccination to DEC's Special Licenses Unit for review and approval.

Renewing & Reporting

License Renewal

  • Class I & II Licenses expire on December 31 every 5th year after the license was issued. A renewal form will be sent by mail prior to the license expiration date noted on the license. If a license renewal form is not received at least 2-weeks prior to the expiration date, please contact us
  • Assistant Licenses expire on December 31 each year. To renew, your supervising Class II rehabilitator must resubmit your name to DEC's Special Licenses Unit.

Annual Reporting

All Class I & II rehabilitators must complete and submit log and tally forms by December 1 each year. Log and tally forms must be completed regardless if wildlife were treated or not for the year.

Laws & Regulations

New York Codes Rules and Regulations (NYCRR)

  • Part 175: Special Licenses and Permits - Definitions and Uniform Procedures
  • Part 184: Wildlife Rehabilitators
  • Part 189.7(f): Chronic Wasting Disease

Environmental Conservation Law (ECL)

Contact Information

DEC Special Licenses Unit
Address: 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233
E-mail: SpecialLicenses@dec.ny.gov
Phone: 518-402-8985

Other Resources & Information

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  • For help with PDFs on this page, please call 518-402-8985.
  • Contact for this Page
  • NYSDEC
    Fish, Wildlife & Marine Resources
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233-4752
    518-402-8985
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