Wildlife Encounters: Kindergarten - 4th Grade
Lesson 4: Rehabilitation
  • Key Words

Why Rehabilitate?

It is a lot of work to care for wild animals! It takes a large amount of time, energy, and money for wildlife rehabilitators to successfully release animals back into the wild. Why should humans work so hard to provide care for wild animals that have become sick or injured? There many reasons wildlife rehabilitation is important – just a few are listed below!

Compassion and Human Enrichment

deer rehabilitationMany people love animals, and enjoy taking care of them. For these people, wildlife rehabilitation is a passion that enriches their life.

It is very rewarding to know that an animal survived and was able to be released because of something you did!

Promoting Ecosystem Health

eagle rehabilitation

Every species plays a niche or role in its ecosystem that helps the whole ecosystem work. This includes prey animals like rabbits, and predator animals like red tailed hawks. Wildlife rehabilitation helps injured and ill animals return to their ecosystems so that they can continue to play their roles.

Wildlife rehabilitation is especially important for endangered species. There are very few of these animals left, and wildlife rehabilitation can help make sure more survive to play their role in the ecosystem.

Doctrine of State Ownership

Illinois state sealWhen your dog or cat becomes sick, you can take them to the veterinarian. Wild animals do not have "owners" to make sure they get the medical care they need. Instead, wildlife "belongs" to the government of the state it lives in.

Wildlife rehabilitators are people that the state and federal governments have given permission to provide the care wild animals need when they becomes sick or injured.

Responsible Stewardship

Stewardship is caring for something that is your responsibility. Wildlife is everyone's responsibility, and deserves care from all people. Unfortunately, the main reason wildlife needs help from wildlife rehabilitators is due to something harmful other humans did.

anthropogenic chart Look at the graph above. This is data from all the reptiles that the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic saw over 7 years. You can see that most of the reptiles came in due to anthropogenic problems, or problems caused by humans.

Wildlife rehabilitation is responsible stewardship because it helps fix some of the damage humans cause to wildlife.

Disease Monitoring

bird rehabilitation

Wildlife rehabilitation is good for human health too! Wildlife rehabilitators may be the first people to know when disease outbreaks happen because the animals with the disease are brought to them for care. This is really important for disease like rabies or West Nile Virus that wildlife can give to people.