A General Guide for Alberta Veterinarians for Accepting & Treating Wildlife
Every year dozens of injured, sick or orphaned wild animals are found by the public. Often, local veterinary practices are contacted for assistance. There are no laws that require a veterinarian to accept or treat wildlife nor is there any compensation if you do, apart from the goodwill created for the profession. It is often difficult to turn away an injured animal. Clients that know and trust you may come to expect that you will take care of all animals in need.
Practice owners, managers and staff can make an internal decision to accept and treat wildlife or not and create simple policies to facilitate those decisions. There are several criteria to consider – time, space, staffing, interest, skill and confidence, legal and social. Communicating with the finder can also be challenging especially in the case of found baby wildlife.
All migratory birds are protected by federal legislation (Migratory Birds Conventions Act) and regulated by Environment Canada, Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS). This act strictly regulates who can possess and transport any migratory bird. Native wildlife (non-migratory birds, birds of prey and mammals) are protected by provincial legislation (Wildlife Act & regulations) by Alberta Environment & Parks (AEP) and regulated by conservation officers under Alberta Justice & Solicitor General.
If your practice decides to accept injured wildlife, the first step would be to contact the nearest wildlife rehabilitation facility (see sidebar) and establish a relationship. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities in Alberta are permitted by AEP and any facility handling migratory birds must also have an appropriate permit from CWS. Wildlife rehabilitation facilities can assist in either accepting wildlife directly or expediting transfer of wildlife legally. They can also assist in up-to-date information about wildlife, which species can be accepted and work with your practice on developing in-house protocols for emergency treatment and handling.
Submitted by Kim Blomme, RVT January 30, 2017
Wildlife Rehabilitation facilities in Alberta
Alberta Birds of Prey Foundation
*Alberta Institute for Wildlife Conservation
Alberta Society for Injured Birds of Prey
Sherwood Park, AB
*Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society
Cochrane Ecological Institute
Medicine River Wildlife Centre
*Wildlife Rehabilitation Society of Edmonton
*Denotes facilities with AB VMA permit to practice