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Wildlife Rehabilitation Permits

Individuals who are interested in rehabilitation of wild animals in South Dakota must meet certain qualifications and have a South Dakota Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit.

The main requirements are:

  • you must pass a written examination to demonstrate your knowledge of this subject
  • you must line up a licensed veterinarian to assist with animal care and evaluation as needed
  • you must be able to provide a facility that matches the needs of the species you propose to provide temporary care for, and
  • you must be willing and able to maintain records to allow your work to be evaluated annually.

GFP has adopted the standards and guidelines established by the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association available at

If you are interested in becoming a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, contact the GFP representative in your area (listed below). These individuals can guide you through the application process:

Western South Dakota
John Kanta
Central South Dakota
Nathan Baker
Southeastern South Dakota
Julie DeJong
Northeastern South Dakota
Jacquie Ermer
If You Care, Leave Them There

Wildlife is meant to be wild. The above slogan reminds us all that we must leave young animals where they are found. For instance, it is common for a doe to leave her fawn behind while she feeds, so a solitary fawn should not be "rescued."

Follow this link for more information >

If you find an animal that needs care by a permitted rehabilitator, contact your local GFP Wildlife Division office for assistance. GFP Wildlife Office Contacts >

Understanding the Wildlife Rehabilitator Permit

When will this program begin?
The program will go into effect on January 1, 2013.

Why was this program created?
People concerned about the welfare of sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife have expressed an interest in providing rehabilitation care. This program was created to assure that animals are cared for in a professional and humane manner. In addition, it provides a means for new rehabilitators to understand the commitment and expertise needed to become a wildlife rehabilitator. Specific rules governing this program may be viewed at

What animals can be covered under the permit?
GFP will identify in the permit those species that will be covered. This will depend on the rehabilitator's facility, level of expertise, and experience. The permit may include such animals as resident game and furbearer species. It will not include migratory birds or species listed by GFP or the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered species.

Are there any species that wildlife rehabilitators won't be allowed to care for?
Regional wildlife managers will work with individual applicants to match their skills and facilities to the species they are interested in rehabilitating. However, it is likely that few if any permits will allow possession and rehabilitation of mountain lions, striped skunks, exotic species or individual animals that are causing damage to property, such as gardens or crops. In addition, the department discourages possession and rehabilitation of unprotected bird species (house sparrow, Eurasian collared-dove, European staling, rock pigeon) and venomous reptiles.

What if I have a federal permit to rehabilitate birds?
The federal permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service allows you to work with migratory birds and you do not need the South Dakota Wildlife Rehabilitator permit if those are the only species on which you will be working.

Are there other considerations?
You should research local ordinances to learn whether you are allowed to have wild animals on your property. You should assess personal risks associated with this work, such as injuries in handling wild animals and potential exposure to diseases that can be transmitted from wild animals to humans.

Will I be reimbursed for this work?
No. GFP will not provide reimbursement for this activity, and you cannot charge a fee for accepting animals. This program is offered for participants who are willing to donate their time and dedication to the temporary care of certain wildlife species that have the potential for rehabilitation and release to the wild.

Will everyone qualified be granted a permit?
GFP will approve sufficient permits to meet the wildlife rehabilitation needs of an area. Once those needs are met, additional permits will be issued only as needed.

Will rehabilitators keep animals that can't be released to the wild?
No. This program is designed to provide a structure for the temporary care of injured or orphaned animals that have a favorable chance for rehabilitation and release to the wild.

Is it still legal to possess certain wild animals without this permit?
Yes. You may possess one raccoon, jackrabbit, skunk, red fox, gray fox, or coyote per household that is kept under humane and sanitary conditions. SD Administrative Rule 41:08:05:01 can be viewed at: