Welcome, Doctor! Thank you for doing what you do!
Wildlife in vet med is just like anything else – it’s hard to find good resources! I’m here to help! I have a Google Drive available to share For DVMs. Please email me at email@example.com and I’ll send you access.
Here is a 13 min quick Rounds video on what to do if wildlife is presented to your clinic:
If you learn nothing else from this page, please know:
- If wildlife presents to your clinic severely injured, please know licensed DVMs in good standing are legally able to perform humane euthanasia on many wildlife species. For your reference, the Iowa code permitting this is Iowa Code section 481A.40(3). Some species are protected (Bald Eagles – call your DNR first!)–I will work on a list. In the meantime, call me with questions at 515-720-0751 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- You can legally treat/stabilize wildlife for 24-48 hours in your clinic, then must transfer to a licensed rehabber.
As the human-wildlife interface expands, it is important now more than ever that veterinarians step up to help local rehabbers and the community. I constantly remind myself of our oath to protect animal welfare, prevent and relieve animal suffering, and promote public health. Wildlife is entitled to a humane death as much as any other animal. Unfortunately, I’ve been hearing many of my clients say they call clinic after clinic inquiring about mercy euthanasia and they are told, “We can’t do it because don’t have a wildlife license.” I have spoken with the Iowa DNR extensively about this. It remains that the only license you need to perform a mercy euthanasia on wildlife is your DVM, with the exception of federally protected species that may require state or federal permission. This would include bald eagles and other migratory birds or endangered species, but rehabbers would not be referring these to your clinic without some communication, anyway. A wildlife rehabilitation license permits someone to keep a wild animal in their possession for longer than 24-48 hours. A rehabber is not licensed to practice medicine, thus where DVMs come in. To become a licensed rehabber, a rehabber must list a veterinarian to whom they refer their sick/injured wildlife on the Iowa Department of Natural Resources application. Vet med and wildlife rehabilitation are two separate fields but one cannot exist without the other. If you have any questions or comments, please contact myself or the DNR anytime. For your reference, Iowa Code section 481A.40(3) permits you to euthanize severely injured wildlife.
I also understand that wildlife comes with other challenges—zoonosis, handling hazards, and it’s pro bono, to name a few! I am hoping to put together a CE event to cover exotics and wildlife for Iowa veterinarians. Although the planning process has been slowed by COVID-19, I would love to bring more wildlife awareness to Iowa veterinarians. For now, I hope I can implore local veterinarians to provide some coverage during these exigent circumstances.
Lastly, many DVMs have reached out to me saying they’re happy to see wildlife from time to time. Thank you to each of you. I assure you this means very much to your clients, building a relationship and your practice.
I hope you are staying well. Thank you very much for your time, I really appreciate it.
A note for vet students: Make sure to take advantage of all wildlife rounds and webinars you can while they are free. The NWRA offers a weekend course only available to vet students.