About Wildlife





Wildlife rehabilitation in Ontario is defined, by legal definition, as "The keeping of injured, sick or immature wildlife in captivity on a temporary basis to restore or effectively condition the wildlife so it can be successfully returned to the wild, and may include medical treatment".  





Regulated under the "Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997" (FWCA), the Ministry of Natural Resources "MNR" (now the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry "MNRF") is charged with maintaining healthy native wildlife poopulations and with perserving the natural habitats those animals need to survive.  The MNR is also concerned with any diseases that wildlife might spread to people.  In other words, their mandate is "big picture" for all indiginous species, thus there is no provision or budget for the rescue, care & release of an individual animal.  That's where rehabilitators come in.





Members of the general public can choose to become rehabilitors.  To rehabilitate wildlife, the MNRF requires the rehabilitator to possess an Ontario Wildlife Custodian Authorization.  To obtain this license, the rehaber must obtain a mark of 80% or higher on the written exam. Then, once ready to start taking in wildlife, the rehaber must complete a custodian application which also includes providing a blueprint of the property where the animals will be housed.  The MNRF will send an officer to inspect the property and, if all criteria is met, will issue a custodian authorization.  Some of the wildlife associations (i.e. OWREN) offer courses that cover the material you need to know for the exam, check their websites on our "Links" page for more info.





Since all rehabilitation is run on donations, most centres do not have paid staff, just volunteers.  Types of volunteers needed include Animal caregivers, administrative, drivers, fundraisers, public relations, building maintenance, fosters, educators, vets/techs/interns. 


  • In-centre volunteers - include animal caregiving, administration, phones, day-to-day operations.  Most centres run 7 days a week since the animals need to be fed/cleaned throughout the day/night, adequate supplies maintained, etc.;

  • Drivers - providing transportation for injured and orphaned animals to the rehabilitator;

  • Fundraisers - canvassing for donations, help manning booths at local festivals/events, help with fundraising drives;

  • Public Relations - helping with media i.e. newsletters, writing articles, photography, newspaper/radio coverage, finding sponsors

  • Buildilng Maintenance - buildilng and equipment maintenance & repairs, building cages and pens;

  • Fostering - some have a foster care program where animals are placed in volunteer homes under the supervision of authorized custodian.

  • Education - if you like to educate the public and young people, some centres have an education program.  

  • Veterinarian / vet tech / interns - if your career is in the animal field, rehabbers welcome volunteers with these credentials!





Rehabilitation and wildlife centres in Ontario receive no government funding, they are completely dependent on donations.  The public, not government, supports wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Ontario.  Most facilities will have a wish list on their website that lists the items they are particularly in need of.  Besides donating money, there are items, services and skills you can donate if you want to help.


  • Monetary donations - most of the larger wildlife or rehabilitation centres have charity licenses and can give out tax receipts for cash donations. Some workplaces have a charity "matching gifts program" where they will match your donation. Money is the best donation for most rehabbers because they can allocate the funds where most needed, usually for the purchase of the specific milk substitutes for the specific species they caregive - these are very expensive, species-specific, and are not readily available for the public to buy to donate.

  • Gift cards - i.e. hardware stores, gas stations, Canadian Tire money

  • Memorium donations - you can pre-arrange a memorium donation to a specific charity in lieu of flowers at your funeral, as well as bequeth a specific amount be donated from your estate in your Will.  

  • Fundraising events - many centres hold fundraising events you can donate your time or items to (i.e. baked goods, arts & crafts, etc.).  You could also donate your time/skills to hold a bake sale, walk-a-thon, garage sale, summer bbq event, etc.

  • Clubs/Associations/Companies - your workplace, Club or Association can help out by holdilng a fundraising event and donate the proceeds.  Some companies have employee charity drives, where the employee who wins gets to choose a charity of their choice for their company to donate to - check with your company's Human Resources department.  

  • Non-cash donations: 

    • Food for the animals:  dog/cat kibble, canned pet food and treats, vegetables, fruit, nuts & seeds, jars of baby food, liquid meal replacements such as "Boost" or "Ensure".

    • Cleaning supplies:  bleach, garbage bags, waste basket liners, rubber gloves, mops, brooms, dustpans, papertowels, j-cloths & sponges, dish liquid, bottle brushes, plastic dish tubs, etc.

    • Other handy items:  newspapers, litter boxes, litter scoops, baby bottles & nipples, syringes, stretchwrap, ziplock baggies, juice jugs with lids (for making up formula), batteries, office supplies, blankets, towels, pinecones, small evergreen branches (for inside cages), knitted nests, veterinary supplies, nitrile gloves, masks, cages, plastic tote boxes, bales of straw & hay, pitch forks, shovels, etc.

    • Appliances (that work) - fridge, freezer, microwave ovens, heating pads, small electric crock pots (used for keeping formula warm during feeding), washers & dryers, office eqpt ie photocopier, cordless phones, etc.

    • Building supplies:  fencing, lumber, nails, screws, wire mesh, extension cords, fire extinguishers, flashlights, etc. 

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