What is wildlife rehabilitation?
Wildlife rehabilitation is the process of providing temporary care to wildlife that is injured, sick or orphaned, in order to facilitate their successful return to the wild. The majority of authorized wildlife custodians are volunteers. In Ontario, wildlife custodians treat and release thousands of animals back to the wild each year.
Wildlife rehabilitation is a long-practiced activity, and until 1999 was unregulated in Ontario. In the late 1990s, the Ontario government recognized the benefits afforded to the public and to custodians by establishing standards of care for the rehabilitation of native wildlife.
Under the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act, 1997 (“the Act”), the keeping of game wildlife or specially protected wildlife in captivity is generally prohibited; however, section 44 of the Act recognizes wildlife rehabilitation as an authorized activity.
What is Wildlife Coexistence?
A large part of our mission is to educate our local communities about wildlife coexistence. That means being stewards of the environment and recognizing that many, if not all, wildlife species are crucial elements for a balanced ecosystem. Interactions between humans/pets and wildlife should be always avoided for everyones safety. We can all do our part to help live peacefully beside and around our wild neighbours and enjoy how they benefit and enrich our communities. Picking up trash, creating natural habitats, and keeping control of pets, are all ways that we can keep wildlife wild, help promote healthy ecosystems and reduce human-wildlife conflict.
What is a Wildlife Custodian?
Wildlife Custodian Authorizations are issued by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry for the purpose of the rehabilitation and care of game wildlife or specially protected wildlife. The Act gives wildlife custodians powers (with conditions) to:
• keep game wildlife or specially protected wildlife in temporary captivity
• assess the releasability of rehabilitated game wildlife or specially protected wildlife
• euthanize unreleasable game wildlife or specially protected wildlife
• release rehabilitated game wildlife or specially protected wildlife.
Wildlife custodians must have and maintain a standard of knowledge and skill in wildlife rehabilitation. To ensure wildlife custodians have a minimum level of knowledge and skill, all applicants must prove a minimum proficiency in wildlife rehabilitation prior to obtaining a Wildlife Custodian Authorization.
What does KWC do?
KWC is a small facility located in a somewhat populated area, so we are limited to the types and quantity of patients we can responsibly and ethically take under our care. We are authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to rehabilitate small mammals such as squirrels, chipmunks, rabbits, and porcupines along with small birds. While we are not currently authorized to accept other species for long term rehabilitation, in many cases we can admit wildlife to triage and transfer to another authorized custodian for up to 24-96 hours. Unfortunately, we are NOT authorized to accept any rabies vector species into our facility including raccoons, skunks, foxes, and bats.
Why do it?
From 1970 to 2014, half (451 of 903) of monitored wildlife species in Canada declined in abundance. Globally we have lost 60% of all wildlife, including 29% of birds. Humans and livestock account for about 96% of the biomass of all mammals, while wild mammals for only 4%. Only a quarter of land on Earth is substantively free of the impacts of human activities. Wetlands are the most impacted category, having lost 87% of their extent in the modern era. We effort to rebalance the scales and learn more about our native species and the threats they are currently facing.
Why not just let nature take its course?
Most wildlife needing rehabilitation were not injured by natural causes, but as a direct result of human interference of some sort. They fly into glass windows, get hit by vehicles, they get into our garbage or pets harass them.
Our goal is to do our best to prevent these problems through public education, and offer help to wildlife in need as a result of these causes.
Why can’t I keep wild animals at home?
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act 1997;
PART III: LIVE WILDLIFE AND FISH - Wildlife in captivity
40.1 A person shall not keep live game wildlife or live specially protected wildlife in captivity except under the authority of a licence and in accordance with the regulations.
Authorized Wildlife Custodians have been granted permission by the MNRF to keep injured, sick or immature game wildlife or specially protected wildlife in captivity for the purpose of rehabilitating or caring for them. Wild animals have very specific nutritional and care needs that cannot be accessed by regular veterinarians or pet supply retailers. To treat them requires specialized training for safe, effective and humane handling and care. Animals raised or cared for by the untrained public have a very low chance at survival or post release success.
Who pays for this?
Fish & Wildlife Conservation Act 1997;
PART III: LIVE WILDLIFE AND FISH - No Remuneration
44.3 A wildlife custodian is not entitled to any remuneration from the Minister.
The MNRF is not permitted to compensate custodians for the rehabilitative work they do for Ontario's wildlife. This work is funded by individual donations, charitable grants or corporate partnerships. Our Annual Gala and direct donations are the main sources of our animal care budget, but we also generate funds from our gift shop, kids camps, educational seminars and membership dues.