Wildlife Welfare and Rehabilitation

While the California Department of Fish and Wildlife is NOT a wildlife rehabilitator, we recognize the value of rehabilitative care for individual wild animals.

CDFW works with interested agencies and organizations - volunteer and otherwise - to ensure high quality practices in the rehabilitation of sick, injured, orphaned, or displaced California wildlife.

For the purpose of this policy, wildlife rehabilitation means "any activity undertaken to restore to a condition of good health, for the purpose of release to the wild, animals occurring naturally and not normally domesticated in this State."

Animals listed as detrimental in Section 671 of Title 14, CCR shall be rehabilitated and released only as specifically authorized by CDFW.

Extended care of animals listed in Section 671, viable wild populations of which do not exist in California, shall occur only under the authority of a permit issued pursuant to that Section.

On occasion the Wildlife Investigations Lab also deals with "wild animal welfare issues". Sometimes native wild animals and exotic wild animals that are listed as "restricted species" are confiscated because of illegal possession, or other problems. The devoted team of wildlife biologists, wildlife veterinarians and administrative staff at the WIL care for these wild animals by providing food and medical stabilization on a temporary basis. Staff work tirelessly to find adequate permanent placement for these animals at nature centers, zoos and qualified permitted restricted species facilities for less fortunate animals that cannot be returned to the wild.

Interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator? See the application process in the California Code of Regulations T-14 Section 679(e)(2)(A)-(E), linked below.

link opens in new tab or windowRegulations Verbatim (PDF)

Rehab Team at Work

WIL staff also work closely with CDFW's License and Revenue Branch in reviewing restricted species facilities permits for the following:

  • Zoonotic diseases
  • Disease concerns for native wildlife species
  • Disease concerns for livestock and poultry
  • Escape and the establishment of wild populations
  • Competition of feral populations with native species

If you have any questions email the Wildlife Rehabilitation program.