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Georgia's new endangered species: Wildlife rehabilitators

Letter to editor

POSTED: March 26, 2012 11:51 a.m.

Editor, Wildlife rehabilitators are very special people. They have acquired the knowledge and experience that is needed to work with injured and orphaned wildlife. Licensed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources — and, if caring for federally protected species, the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service — a wildlife rehabilitator’s ultimate goal is to take an injured or orphaned animal, get it healthy and return it to its natural habitat.
Most people have misconceptions about what wildlife rehabilitators do. They envision them frolicking on the grass with friendly, playful critters while a melody of Walt Disney songs floats down from somewhere in the clouds. The reality is that injured or orphaned animals are obviously afraid and traumatized.
These animals require urgent specialized care, so a rehabber can’t wait for weeks, days or even a few hours while the animals get accustomed to being handled. As a result, wildlife rehabilitators get scratched, bitten, urinated on or worse daily. The days are long for rehabbers, averaging 14 to 18 hours. Some are longer.
But what happens to these animals when the wildlife rehabilitators themselves are in trouble? Consider that most rehabbers operate using their own financial resources combined with limited contributions from a few local supporters.
Luckily for the animals, rehabbers are dedicated, and they will take extraordinary measures to continue their life-saving work. They solicit for financial or in-kind contributions. They make deals with grocers and pet store managers for donations or discounted bags of pet food.
Some wildlife rehabilitators do have support networks, but most do not and the situation for the vast majority of them is critical. Many will not be able to continue without contributions and financial support. And all of this is happening in spring, the busiest time for all wildlife rehabilitators.
Please support the wildlife rehabilitators that serve your area or region. For more information or to make a contribution, go to or mail donations to P.O. Box 7272, Tifton, GA 31794. Please help us continue our efforts to save and protect Georgia’s native wildlife.
— Chet Powell
Executive Director
Georgia Wildlife Rescue Association

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