MWRA: Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association MWRA: for the protection and preservation of Maryland wildlife

Wildlife Rehabilitation Permits & Licenses

How do I become a wildlife rehabilitator?

If you are interested in training to become a wildlife rehabilitator, the best way is to volunteer at a local wildlife rehabilitation center and obtain the necessary experience and appropriate applications.

MWRA or DNR can refer you to the appropriate organization in your area. You may also wish to contact IWRC (International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council) or NWRA (National Wildlife Rehabilitation Association), which are, respectively, the international and national associations for rehabilitators. Check on the Wildlife Education page for website information. Their websites provide a wealth of information and will also notify you when IWRC or NWRA is sponsoring a workshop in our area.

Most states regulate the rehabilitation of wild animals by requiring people who handle wild animals to hold a permit or license. The State of Maryland restricts this permit to temporary housing and treatment necessary to prepare an animal for release.

How do I obtain a wildlife rehabilitation permit?

To get a permit you need to do the following:

- Get an apprentice permit from DNR

- Work with a master rehabilitator for two years

- Complete 200 hours with a master rehabilitator

- Find a Veterinarian who will sign a form saying he/she will work with you

- Get 6 hours of approved continuing education each year

- Join either NWRA or IWRC and MWRA (not required but suggested)

- After the required 200 hours and 2 years, submit your hours and the checklist to DNR

The master rahabilitator must sign off on the checklist.
After approval by DNR, you will be issued a master rehabilitator permit.

All permitees submit on an annual basis a report of all animals handled and their disposition.  All permits are renewed every two years. At that time, you must submit proof of 6 hours of continuing education for each year, or a total of 12 hours.


How do I obtain a Rabies Vector Species (RVS) permit?

Special Note: DNR now issues permits to handle Rabies Vector Species (RVS) such as raccoons, bats, skunks or foxes. These permits require special training and special caging. To apply for an RVS permit, you need to do the following:

- Possess a master rehabilitator permit for a minimum of two years

- Have special caging and submit photos of those cages to DNR

- Furnish proof of rabies pre-exposure shots or recent titer test

- Attend a DNR approved class on handling RVS

Please contact a wildlife rehabilitation center in your area or call the Department of Natural Resources Permits Office for a referral to a master rehabilitator who holds an RVS permit.


The DNR Permits Office can be contacted at:

Maryland Department of Natural Resources
Permits Department
Tawes State Office Building
Annapolis, MD 21401
(410) 260-8540

How do I obtain a Migratory Bird permit?


If you want to rehabilitate raptors or migratory birds, you must hold a Migratory Bird Permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. First, you must have a Maryland State master rehabilitation permit. To apply for a Federal Migratory Bird permit, contact the address below:

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
Migratory Bird Permit Office
Post Office Box 779
Hadley, MA 01035-0779
(413) 253-8643



Handling endangered animals, such as eagles or peregrine falcons, requires special permits which are strictly enforced by DNR (Dept. of Natural Resources) and USFWS (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service).

The State of Maryland does not allow wildlife rehabilitators to keep any wildlife on a permanent basis.


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Copyright MWRA: Maryland Wildlife Rehabilitators Association, Inc. 2014