Wildlife Rehabbers Get Support from California’s Taxpayers and California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Photo credit: CDFW Wildlife Health Lab
Many of California’s wildlife rehabilitators have received much-needed financial assistance through the new Native Wildlife Rehabilitation Grant Program. Of the 84 permitted wildlife rehab facilities in California, 47 applied for and will receive funding totaling $547,000 in the 2022 grant cycle. There are four grant tiers based on the prior year’s animal intakes: $3,000, $9,000, $14,000 and $19,000. Most applicants were awarded a $9,000 grant. A list of 2021 and 2022 grantees is available on the CDFW Native Wildlife Rehabilitation webpage.
This funding pays for various costs including veterinarian treatment, species-appropriate diet, enclosure design improvements and behavioral enrichment to improve animal care; support and improvement to facility operations; and conservation education for diverse local communities.
Every year, thousands of sick, injured and orphaned wild animals require temporary care and rehabilitation in order to safely return to the wild. At times, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) may provide veterinary treatment of a wild animal, such as a black bear injured in a wildfire, but CDFW does not have the capacity to act as a rehabilitation facility statewide. Thus, wildlife rehabilitation is provided by permitted facilities throughout the state.
“Wildlife rehabbers are the unsung heroes of the conservation world,” said Heather Perry, CDFW’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Program Coordinator. “Proper care of wildlife in distress requires special knowledge, training and experience usually not had by the public. Their expertise is absolutely necessary, and their compassion and dedication are so very appreciated.”
Most of the grantees focus on assisting native wildlife such as small mammals, songbirds, raptors, marine birds, amphibians and reptiles. There are also a few facilities that are permitted and trained for specialty rehab cases involving black bears, deer fawns and mountain lions.
A wildlife rehabilitator may operate a permitted facility at one location, use satellite facilities, or an approved home site to perform wildlife rehabilitation. Most rely heavily on donations from the public.
Authorized in 2017 through the Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (PDF) (AB1031), the Wildlife Native Rehabilitation Grant Program saw the number of grantees increase by two from 2021 to 2022. Both years, over half of the eligible rehab facilities were awarded funding, for a total of $1,096,000.
To learn more about California’s wildlife rehabbers – including finding one near you – please visit the CDFW Native Wildlife Rehabilitation webpage.
Taxpayers who want to help rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife by supporting permitted wildlife rehabilitation facilities can contribute through the Voluntary Tax Contributions section on the California State Income Tax Form 540. The Native California Wildlife Rehabilitation Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund can be found on line 439 of the form. The Form 540 can also be used to support at-risk native species through two other funds: the Rare and Endangered Species Preservation Voluntary Tax Contribution Program (line 403) and the California Sea Otter Voluntary Tax Contribution Fund (line 410). All donations support efforts to identify and mitigate the conditions and activities that threaten native species throughout the state. For more information about donating at tax time, please visit the CDFW tax check-off webpage.
Heather Perry, CDFW Human Wildlife Conflict Program, (916) 317-0229
Leticia Palamidessi, CDFW Education and Outreach, (916) 708-8517