Registered Charity No. 1157841

British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council

BWRC Guidelines for Wildlife Rehabilitation Units




1. The main objectives of the BWRC are to promote the welfare of wildlife casualties both whilst in captivity and after release to the wild and

to ensure that casualties are handled within the framework and spirit of the law. These guidelines have been designed to help achieve

these objectives by outlining in general terms the basic facilities that a rehabilitation unit might provide and the ethical and legal

considerations within which it might work.


2. It is appreciated that there is a wide diversity of opinion on moral, humane and ecological grounds regarding the degree of interference

to which a wildlife casualty might be subjected.However, at all stages in the process of handling a casualty, the welfare of the individual

animal must be the main concern. At the same time consideration should be given to ensuring an animal is fit and able to return to the

wild and the consequences of attempting to return such an animal and the effect this might have on the stability of the ecosystem to

which it is returned.


3. As a general principle any casualty retained for treatment at a unit should have a reasonable expectation of successful release

and long term survival in the wild. If not, euthanasia should be recommended.


4. The facilities of a unit and the expertise of the personnel should dictate the species, the ages, the total numbers and the

types of casualties that can be handled.


5. In these guidelines:


•  a rehabilitation unit is defined as any premises, regardless of size, that is prepared to accept wildlife casualties;

•  a wildlife casualty is defined as any sick, injured or orphaned wild animal that is unable to survive in the wild without human intervention.


Casualties can be broadly classified by the length of time they need to be retained in captivity, whether the outcome is euthanasia

or release to the wild:


Short term - requiring first aid only

Medium term  - requiring simple treatment but no special release procedures  

Long term - requiring prolonged treatment and preparation for release


Although, to the best of our knowledge, the details of legislation contained within this guidelines are accurate at the time

of publication, we strongly recommend that expert advice is sought whenever a legal opinion is required.




  I. Relevant Legislation

  II. Basic Skills

  III. Basic Equipment

  IV. Statement of Facilities



Contents - click below to go to the relevant page


  1. Introduction (below)

  2. Capture, Handling and Transportation

  3. Treatment Phase

  4. Convalescence and Pre-Release Assessment

  5. Release

  6. Permanent Captivity

  7. Records

  8. Volunteers