Wildlife rehabilitation licences

The Department of Planning and Environment regulates native wildlife rehabilitation to ensure injured and sick native animals receive specialised care and treatment.

Native animals are protected in NSW by the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 (BC Act).

The rescue and rehabilitation of native animals involves the capture, handling, treatment, release and at times euthanasia of sick, injured or orphaned native animals. Experience and expertise are required for these specialised activities. Unless you are a qualified vet, you require a biodiversity conservation licence granted under the BC Act to take a sick, injured or orphaned native animal into care.

We license selected groups, authorised animal exhibitors and individuals for the rescue and rehabilitation of protected native animals. Some licensed wildlife rehabilitation providers specialise in native species, such as koalas, flying-foxes or marine wildlife, whereas others cover a wide range of species.

All licensed wildlife rehabilitators must comply with certain standards for the care of the native animals under their control to ensure animal welfare. These standards are outlined in the Rehabilitation of Protected Native Animals Policy, codes of practice and wildlife rehabilitation licence conditions and specify the minimum requirements for the welfare of animals, training of group members and the keeping and reporting of records.

Wildlife rehabilitators can also seek the assistance of veterinarians listed on the native animal vet directory who have identified themselves as having expertise in treating native mammals, birds, frogs or reptiles.

Getting a licence

Under the Rehabilitation of Protected Native Animals Policy, we only grant new wildlife rehabilitation licences on a 'need for services' basis.

Our preference is for prospective wildlife rehabilitators to align with an existing licensed wildlife rehabilitation group. In some instances, where a group does not currently operate, we may grant a licence to an individual.

We will only consider applications for a new group wildlife rehabilitation licence when we publish a call for applications.

We will only publish a call for applications when we identify a gap or inadequacy in service provision that cannot be filled by an existing licensed group.

As there is no current call for applications, prospective wildlife rehabilitators should align with an existing licensed wildlife rehabilitation group.

Find out more about Getting involved in native wildlife rehabilitation.

We will only consider an application for a new individual wildlife rehabilitation licence provided you:

  • reside outside of the authorisation area of any existing licensed wildlife rehabilitation groups
  • have experience rehabilitating local native animal species
  • give a formal written undertaking to comply with the approved Codes of Practice and Guidelines.

Contact the Wildlife Team to discuss.

Comply with licence conditions

All wildlife rehabilitation licences are granted with conditions. Under the BC Act, it is an offence to contravene a condition of a licence.

View the wildlife rehabilitation licence conditions (PDF 37KB)

Managing conflict in the wildlife rehabilitation sector

Conflict is a normal part of life and of working with others and is likely to affect everyone at some time. For example, conflict may arise because of a difference in interpretation of guidelines, standards, rules or facts, or a disagreement about personal performance or views. Sometimes, it may also involve inappropriate behaviours like bullying, harassment or discrimination.

Dealing with conflict can be uncomfortable and stressful. If allowed to escalate it can be very destructive to people and organisations involved. For a wildlife rehabilitation group, conflict can affect its reputation in the community and result in volunteer burnout, loss of members and negatively impact the operation of the organisation itself.

The department does not have the authority under the Biodiversity Conservation Act to resolve conflicts in wildlife rehabilitation groups. Neither does it arbitrate such matters. Instead, we have focussed on developing resources and tools to enable groups to deal with conflict if it arises. We want to ensure everyone in the wildlife rehabilitation sector has access to the right tools for managing conflict within their organisations. So, in collaboration with Justice Connect we have developed a conflict management toolkit and conflict of interest policy for the wildlife rehabilitation sector in New South Wales.. The toolkit includes a package of resources to help wildlife rehabilitation organisations avoid and manage internal conflict including:

  • strategies for preventing, identifying and managing conflict
  • governance considerations for committees dealing with conflict
  • bullying sexual harassment and discrimination policy
  • codes of conduct for committees and volunteers and a
  • complaint form.

The conflict management toolkit should become an essential part of each wildlife rehabilitation organisations governance policy and procedures.

If groups are unable to resolve conflict using these tools they may need to seek the assistance of independent mediation, for example, from a Community Justice Centre or contact the NSW Fair Trading or Australian Charities and not-for-profit Commission if appropriate. Unresolved matters may require independent legal advice.

The development of these resources is an action in our Volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitation Sector Strategy and a recommendation of the Independent Biodiversity Legislation Review Panel.