Why we rehabilitate
Sometimes we are asked why we rehabilitate injured and
orphaned wild animals. The following are answers to those questions.
"Injured animals are the weaker of their species, we should just let nature happen."
Human activity is the primary cause of injury to wild animals. From being hit by a vehicle, attacked by a domestic cat or dog, entangled in a fence or fish line, hitting a window or building, to being electrocuted, poisoned or shot - these are the reasons why wild animals are brought to us. Orphaned babies are generally the product of the
parents being killed or disturbed from their nest or den. These activities are not natural obstacles for these animals and we believe in trying to compensate for all of the negative impacts humans have on wildlife and nature.
"Saving one wild animal will not do anything to help the population."
We know. But this individual animal's life is as important to it as
yours is to you. Our mandate is to improve the welfare of individual
wild animals and not to save a species. However, in some cases we do
treat rare or locally threatened wildlife that does make a difference to
the population. Also we are developing expertise and knowledge in wild
animal husbandry that may one day be needed to help care for future
species at risk or in emergency situations like oil spills. After all,
it was falconers and rehabilitators that had the knowledge of how to
care for Peregrine Falcons in captivity, which helped the endangered
species begin to re-establish and be re-classified as a "threatened
"Money is better spent on habitat protection and species conservation."
Concerns for species and habitat protection have dominated
traditional wildlife management practices and significant government
resources are allocated to these efforts. We agree that more needs to be
done to protect species and habitats, as there is no purpose in
treating injured and orphaned wild animals if there is nowhere to
release them afterwards. However, wildlife rehabilitation is not funded
by government resources and does not deter these funds from conservation
efforts. The public funds wildlife rehabilitation through donations,
which indicates they desire the activity. Wildlife rehabilitation is a
tool of conservation by acting as an environmental indicator for what is
happening in the environment - look at the research we are currently involved in.
"Rehabilitation doesn't do anything except make the rehabilitator feel better."
Wildlife rehabilitators do feel good that they are improving the
welfare of wild animals. However, not every case is heart-warming, some
are very difficult. Across North America, the average release rate for
rehabilitation is 30-40% for the types of species we treat. This means
that 30% of the animals die in care within hours or days of being
admitted or before they even reach the center and there is nothing we
can do for them but provide a safe and warm environment. The remaining
animals suffer from severe injuries, illness, or emaciation that they
will never recover from to function in the wild again, and therefore
they are provided with a humane euthanasia - another form of release -
that from a very painful life. This definitely does not make a
rehabilitator feel good, although they know that this is the best option
for the animal. Also if we did not rehabilitate wildlife, many
well-intentioned people would take injured and orphaned wildlife home
and without the proper knowledge and training they could potentially
cause more harm.