New Orleans, LA) – Licensed Louisiana wildlife rehabilitators are in desperate need of more rehab volunteers and more funding. Local rehabilitators, whose names and phone numbers can be found on the Department of Louisiana Wildlife & Fisheries website, pay for everything themselves (https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/permitted-wildlife-rehabilitators). Every penny they spend on rehabilitation comes from their own pockets or donors. Costs include caging, food, formula, enrichment, vet care and more. They are also required to follow the laws and regulations regarding caging standards, diet standards, transportation, vet care, required books to read, intake sheets and more, which requires money as well.
These “rehabbers” are receiving calls around the clock, especially during spring and summer during breeding season. Many people don’t think about the opossum or raccoon they just hit in the road, but those animals could be mothers who are trying to cross the street with their babies, or are trying to get back to their babies to give them food. This special group of licensed rehabbers and their subcommittees, some of whom are working toward getting their license, are the ones who save the injured or abandoned younglings.
“We sign up for wildlife rehabilitation because wildlife has no voice and is very misunderstood and neglected,” local rehabilitator Jennifer Johnson said. “Each and every species plays a critical part in our lives and especially in our ecosystem. Every life matters.”
Johnson, who is working on getting licensed, also said that caring for the animals she takes in can take months of commitment and even longer if an animal has a medical issue and needs physical therapy or medication. Rehabbers have cleaning, food prep and feeding schedules, some of which are every two to three hours for infants and neonatal animals. Bird rehabbers with nestlings must feed every 15 to 30 minutes.
“It’s a labor of love that’s dependent on community support and donations,” Johnson said. “The most important items we need are formula, hard food, fresh food like vegetables and fruit, and caging, but we also use everything from blankets, baby wipes, paper towels, laundry soap, puppy pads, disinfectant cleaner, baby toys, Rubbermaid totes, vitamin supplements, heating pads, syringes, baby bottles, baby soap, latex gloves and so much more.”
If you are interested in becoming a licensed wildlife rehabilitator in Louisiana, visit https://www.wlf.louisiana.gov/page/wildlife-rehab-permit-and-basic-skills-course. Currently, there are fewer than 50 licensed rehabbers, although there may be others who work under a single license, known as subpermittees.
The Humane Society of Louisiana encourages people to get involved by becoming a licensed rehabber or join their volunteer rescue team that picks up and delivers injured or orphaned wildlife to rehabilitation centers or individuals. To get involved, please contact the Humane Society at 1-888-6-HUMANE.