Wildlife Rehabilitation SARS-CoV-2 Restrictions
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) issued the previous wildlife rehabilitation restrictions (expired) to help reduce the potential spread of SARS-CoV-2 between people and wildlife, including the native Colorado bat species allowances for bat rehabilitation.
- Since the initial discovery of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, there has been and continues to be an international effort to better understand how the virus can be potentially transmitted between humans and wildlife when in direct contact or in a laboratory setting.
- CPW identified the rehabilitation of mustelids and bats as the most significant risks for wildlife rehabilitation related to SARS-CoV-2 in Colorado. Due to these concerns:
- CPW temporarily suspended mustelid rehabilitation through December 31, 2021 (now expired).
- CPW temporarily suspended release of most bats from rehabilitation through September 15, 2021 (now expired).
- Effective September 16, 2021: licensed wildlife rehabilitation of any authorized native bat species, and subsequent release, was again authorized.
- Any white-nose syndrome monitoring and in-take notification are also still required.
- This guidance includes the use of a cloth mask for individuals in facilities with staff that are fully vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, and use of N95 or KN95 masks for facilities without a fully vaccinated staff.
- CPW is encouraging any bat held in wildlife rehabilitation be released and not over-wintered.
- CPW will remind licensed wildlife rehabilitators that all appropriate PPE equipment should still be worn based upon the type of wildlife and injury.
CPW issues guidance based on current research data. As more information becomes available, please remember that CPW may issue additional revisions or restrictions of wildlife rehabilitation in the future.
General Overview of Wildlife Rehabilitation
For an alphabetical list of the documents listed below, see the index page.
The following section provides general and regulatory information about wildlife rehabilitation in Colorado.
Chart of Chapter 14 Changes Approved in 2009 – This chart summarizes the changes to wildlife rehabilitation regulations that were approved by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission in spring, 2009 after a 9-month process that involved rehabilitators and the Parks and Wildlife.
Article for Fall 2009 CCWR Newsletter submitted by Special Licensing describes the rationale behind the new section of the wildlife rehab regulations passed in 2009 that relate to the use of unlicensed people helping with wildlife care, such as volunteers, interns and seasonal staff. Additional background for the changes are in the section titled Chapter 14 Basis and Purpose - All.
Obtaining a Wildlife Rehabilitation License
Colorado Parks and Wildlife (CPW) recommends that individuals considering becoming a wildlife rehabilitator begin by reading both the 2-page brochure entitled Learn About Wildlife Rehab Brochure and the more in-depth 10-page booklet entitled Wildlife Rehabilitation: Is It For You?. These documents provide an overview of rehabilitation activities and general requirements. The National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association (NWRA) and the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) have endorsed both documents for potential rehabilitators.
CPW regulations on Wildlife Rehabilitation (Chapter 14) provide regulatory language describing the requirements for becoming licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Potential rehabilitators, as well as existing rehabilitators, will find that the Chapter 14 Basis and Purpose provides essential information about the background and intention of the regulations.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Application Flow Chart - There are many steps involved in applying for and being issued a provisional wildlife rehabilitation license and a wildlife rehabilitation license. This one-page flow chart provides an overview of the process described in the guidelines for provisional license holders and sponsors. While every application may not follow the same sequential series of steps, the flow chart depicts the general sequence followed by most new applicants as they pursue their full Wildlife Rehabilitator license.
Provisional Guidelines will help a prospective rehabilitator understand the requirements to obtain a Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitation license. This discussion includes information on the various regulatory requirements, as well as considerations for selecting and working with an experienced wildlife rehabilitator that will serve in the required sponsorship role. All new applicants are expected to have read this document prior to applying for the Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitation license.
Sponsor Guidelines will help a wildlife rehabilitator determine if they want to assume sponsorship responsibilities for a new rehabilitator. Experience has shown that successful sponsors fully understand the time and energy required to train and supervise a new rehabilitator, as well as having the ability to assess a new person’s ability and understanding of what it takes to complete the required training period and go on to be a successful rehabilitator. Potential sponsors are expected to review this document prior to agreeing to serve in a sponsorship role.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Provisional Application - Provisional wildlife rehabilitation applicants are required to submit an application to the CPW’s Special Licensing Unit. The application provides general information from the applicant and sponsor and is signed by both. The application is accompanied by additional documents such as the Learning Plan (LP). Provisionals and sponsors may select from either template 1 or template 2 (Example Learning Plan 1 or Example Learning Plan 2) as a basis for meeting the regulatory requirements. These templates are based on Chapter 14 Wildlife Rehabilitation Regulations. The LP should be specific to the applicant. In addition, an annual progress report for the Learning Plan is submitted with the Annual Rehabilitation Record and Renewal due no later than January 31 of each year.
Colorado Rehab Study Guide – The Learning Plan identifies general subjects that the Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitator needs to learn about during their provisional period, as well as some resources and sources of information. The Study Guide identifies much more specific questions on categories from the Learning Plan that Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitators should be able to answer prior to the upgrade request. Sponsors are expected to add additional questions and topics that they believe are useful. While sponsors provide training on these many and varied subjects, many other sources of information and skill building also should be tapped, including other rehabilitators, publications, veterinarians, classes, conferences, and more.
Provisional Upgrade Process - When the provisional and sponsor agree that the provisional has met the requirements for an upgrade for his or her full permit, they prepare a Request for Provisional Upgrade and submit it to the Special Licensing Unit. Copies of the initial Learning Plan, annual progress reports related to the Learning Plan, and annual Wildlife Rehabilitation Records are attached to the request. This section explains the process steps and describes the content of the upgrade interview conducted with the Provisional by the District Wildlife Manager.
Request for Provisional Upgrade Form - When the provisional and sponsor agree that the provisional has met the requirements for an upgrade for his or her full permit, they prepare this form and submit it to the Special Licensing Unit. Copies of the initial Learning Plan, annual progress or status reports related to the Learning Plan, and annual Wildlife Rehabilitation Records are attached to the request. Two example versions of the Request for Provisional Upgrade forms are provided. These examples- PWR Upgrade Example 1 and PWR Upgrade Example 2 - of the sponsor’s completed Upgrade Request Form document what the provisional has learned, accomplishments, and reasons that the sponsor believes that the provisional is ready for an upgrade to full rehabilitation license. These two examples show the level of detail and thoroughness expected by CPW.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Full Application – Use this application to apply for an upgrade from Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitator to Full Wildlife Rehabilitator, to request a license reinstatement if your Colorado license has lapsed, or to request changes (such as authorized species or authorized rehab locations) to an existing license. Also for use by those applying for a Full Rehabilitation license based upon documented, licensed, equivalent (species and license type) wildlife rehabilitation experience in lieu of the required Provisional experience.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Training Resources:
Requirements for Unlicensed Individuals Assisting Wildlife Rehabilitators with Direct Animal Care
Chapter 14 allows unlicensed people (volunteers, interns, seasonal staff, etc.) to help wildlife rehabilitators with direct animal care at CPW approved rehabilitation facilities and under specific conditions (Chapter 14). While these unlicensed people are generally under the direct supervision of a wildlife rehabilitator who is onsite, the regulations allow exceptions if certain requirements are met.
The following clarifies what is expected by the regulations, various resources and recordkeeping forms.
Record Keeping - Rehabilitators who use unlicensed people to help with direct animal care must maintain records related to these people, including: name, address, phone, training completed, dates worked, animal care provided, and so forth. These records, related to any and all unlicensed people who have assisted with direct animal care, are submitted to the CPW with the Annual Rehabilitation Report and Renewal that is due no later than January 31. Forms are provided for downloading. Download the form and complete it either electronically or on a printed copy.
Required training - Assisting wildlife rehabilitators with animals requires knowledge and skill. Chapter 14 requires that all unlicensed people assisting with animals have some basic training provided by the fully-licensed wildlife rehabilitator, on such topics as ethics, regulations, safe capture and handling, wildlife diseases and parasites, and diet and nutrition. Other training may be needed depending on the tasks with which the unlicensed person may be involved, such as first aid and admitting animals. This section briefly describes the training required, reasons, training methods (e.g., reading, coaching, demonstrations, classes), and minimum content. It also provides guidance for the other training.
Written protocols - If there are times when the unlicensed person may be working at the rehabilitation facility when the licensed wildlife rehabilitator is not onsite, there must be written protocols for the tasks to be accomplished. This section describes what is meant by written protocols, how they differ from written instructions, preparation and so forth.
Description of ‘acceptable animal care’ - One of the other conditions for using unlicensed people to help with direct animal care is that acceptable animal care must be maintained. It is expected that all rehabilitators work toward quality animal care, but CPW acknowledges that considerably more research and discussion is needed to more fully define acceptable animal care. This section provides some initial ideas and direction on the topic of what constitutes acceptable animal care.
Other Resources for Wildlife Rehabilitators
Annual Reporting - Wildlife rehabilitators are required to submit a record of their annual rehabilitation activities each year. Several forms are required, including a complete list of all animals and their disposition, a summary of the rehabilitation and transfers. Rehabilitators must also report the activities of all unlicensed individuals who assisted with direct animal care during the year. The forms may be completed and submitted as paper documents or electronically in Excel. The Annual Report is due no later than January 31 - Instruction sheet, Printable Form, Electronic Fillable Form.
In addition to the Annual Rehabilitation Record, wildlife rehabilitators must complete and submit an annual renewal application (Annual Renewal Application).
Consulting Agreement from Veterinarian - Wildlife rehabilitators are required to have veterinary support. A copy of the consulting agreement from the veterinarian, if there have been changes during the year, must be submitted with their Annual Renewal Application.
Facility Inspection Form - Wildlife rehabilitation facilities must be inspected and approved by CPW prior to the license being approved. In addition, regulations require that the sponsor review and approve the caging of the person applying for the Provisional Wildlife Rehabilitation license prior to submitting their application to CPW in order to ensure that the Provisional has appropriate space, caging, supplies and so forth. While the District Wildlife Manager will use this form during the inspection, the Provisional and sponsor are encouraged to consider it during the facility preparation and sponsor inspection.
Transport Authority Form - See the sample form for a Wildlife Rehabilitation Transport Form of the type required for any unlicensed individual transporting wildlife from a rehabilitator’s facility to a veterinarian, rehabilitator, release site or other site allowed by regulation. While rehabilitators may develop and use their own forms, this form provides a useful template.