Managing Wildlife Emergencies 


Wildlife Decision Tree (courtesy of the AVMA)

From the American Veterinary Medical Association website:

What does your practice do when someone brings in a sick or injured wild animal? What about calls pertaining to wildlife? Does everyone in your practice know what their roles are when either of these things happen? Does everyone on staff know where to find the contact information for the wildlife authorities in your area?

View additional resources

This decision tree serves as a guide for practices to assist them in navigating the complexities associated with treating wildlife species or their hybrids. Basically, the chart helps your practice take care of the issues peripheral to the animal so that you can focus on treating the animal appropriately. Although it may not appear under every topic, personal safety as well as the safety of other staff, clients, and patients must be considered at all times.

If you are looking for a specific resource related to wildlife, such as regulations or AVMA policies, click on the Additional Resources box to view a list of items which may be helpful. To access more detailed discussions of topics presented, simply follow the links in the chart as you work your way through it.

Additional wildlife resources are available on the AVMA website here.

Wildlife Care Basics for Veterinary Hospitals—Before the Rehabilitator Arrives

Wildlife Care Basics for Veterinary Hospitals is a joint project of the Humane Society Veterinary Medical Association and the animal care centers of The Humane Society of the United States.

“This handbook was inspired by all the calls from veterinary offices requesting information about how to temporarily care for and treat injured and orphaned wildlife. Because the needs of wildlife are so different from those of domestic animals, it became clear that there was a wide information gap that needed to be filled. The practical information in these pages will not only help the veterinarian’s office provide the needed short-term emergency care and housing, but it will also help facilitate the transfer of disabled wild animals to licensed wildlife rehabilitators. Tips for educating and screening the public are included, along with some relevant resource materials.”

WWRA Disclaimer

  • Regulations differ between geographic regions. Federal and state regulations should be adhered to. A discussion of regulations relating to veterinary work with wildlife can be found in Whittington and Duerr 2017: Legal Responsibilities and Restrictions for Veterinarians Working with Wildlife, Wildlife Rehabiltiation Bulletin 35( 1): 25-37.

  • Medical treatments consistently change as new information becomes available. Current information regarding appropriate medications and species-specific dosages can be found in Carpenter 2017, Exotic Animal Formulary 5th edition (may be purchased here) and Miller, Goodman and Cox 2017, NWRA Wildlife Formulary, 4th edition (may be purchased here).

  • Nutritional dietary information changes as new information becomes available or as product ingredients change. Contact a local permitted wildlife rehabilitator or species specialist for appropriate diet information.