Regulations for Wildlife Rehabilitation


The new sections are adopted under Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter C, which provides the Commission with the authority to establish regulations governing the taking and possession of protected wildlife for rehabilitation purposes.

'69.43. Definitions.

The following words and terms, when used in this subchapter, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

Education - Activities that encourage management and conservation of wildlife resources or which are intended to increase the public's awareness and understanding of aspects of wildlife biology.

Fostering - Using a captive animal to rear young animals of the same species.

Holding - Retaining in captivity.

Human imprinting or human bonding - A dependency or fixation upon humans as parent substitutes or companions.

Non-releasable animal - An animal which, after rehabilitation, is determined by the department to be unlikely to survive in the wild if released.

Propagate - To allow animals to produce offspring.

Rehabilitation - The temporary caring for injured, orphaned, or sick wildlife until such animals can be released to the wild.

Release to the wild - Release of wildlife to an area where it is capable of leaving at will.

Socialize - Using a captive animal to teach wild behaviors to juvenile animals of the same species.

Subpermittee - A person authorized by a permit to conduct activities only while under the supervisory responsibility of a permit holder.

Supervisory responsibility - The responsibility that a permit holder has to direct the actions of an individual under his or her control, and for which that supervisor accepted legal responsibility.

Transportation - The transfer of captive protected wildlife from one permit holder to another, from an out-of-state source to an in-state permit holder, from an in-state permit holder to an out-of-state destination, from site of legal capture to holding, or to site of final disposition.

Volunteer - An individual who works with permitted wildlife in the presence of the permit holder or subpermittee.

'69.44. General Provisions.

(a) Activities authorized by a permit issued under this section shall be made only by the permittee(s) or subpermittee(s) named on the permit. Volunteers may assist in these activities, but only when in the presence of a permittee or subpermittee. A permittee utilizing volunteers shall keep on file at the permitted facility a signed and dated affidavit authorizing the status of each volunteer.

(b) Protected wildlife held under the authority of a rehabilitation permit may not be sold, bartered, or exchanged for any consideration. A permit issued under this section shall not authorize a person, firm, or corporation to engage in the propagation or commercial sale of protected wildlife.

(c) A permit holder shall conduct rehabilitation in an environment which minimizes human contact and prevents human and domestic animal imprinting or bonding.

(d) Except for permitted educational purposes, wildlife possessed under the permit shall not come in contact with anyone other than the permit holder, subpermittees, volunteers, licensed veterinarians or the staff of licensed veterinarians.

(e) A permit holder shall not allow the viewing, exhibit, or display to the public of animals under rehabilitation unless specifically authorized by permit provision.

(f) A permit holder shall not conduct rehabilitation on the same property as a fur-bearing animal propagation facility. This restriction may be waived by the department on a case-by-case basis.

(g) Non-releasable protected wildlife shall be euthanized unless the permittee meets the criteria established in paragraph (1) or (2) of this subsection for the retention of nonreleasable wildlife. Permission to retain non-releasable wildlife may be granted only to rehabilitators who have at least 3 years' experience as a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

(1) The department may permit the retention of nonreleasable wildlife for approved educational, fostering, or socialization purposes, or for transfer to zoological, scientific, or educational permit holders. Requests must be made in writing to the department and no transfer shall take place until the department has approved the request.

(2) Prior to December 31, 1997, the department may grant on a case-by-case basis, via letter of authorization, permission for permitted rehabilitators to retain nonreleasable wildlife.

(h) Permit holders possessing non-releasable raptors shall band the raptors with markers supplied by the department.

(i) All medical treatment shall be performed in consultation with a licensed veterinarian.

(j) Euthanized wildlife and wildlife that has died while under the care of a permittee may be retained by the permittee or transferred to another permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

(k) This subchapter does not apply to department personnel, or transport by animal control officers, or peace officers in the performance of official duties.

(l) The department may temporarily waive any provision of this subchapter during a wildlife health crisis.

'69.45. Permit Required.

(a) No permit is required to rehabilitate nongame species for which there is no open season or possession limit, or for which there are no provisions by rule or statute that would otherwise restrict possession.

(b) Licensed veterinarians may hold, possess, and transport protected wildlife to provide emergency medical care or stabilization care for periods of up to 48 hours, after which time the wildlife must be transferred to a permitted rehabilitator.

(c) Subpermittees may possess protected wildlife for rehabilitation purposes provided they have in their possession a copy of the valid permit naming them as a subpermittee.

(d) No permittee shall change facility location, consulting veterinarian, or subpermittees, receive unauthorized species, or conduct unauthorized activities unless the permittee possesses an amended permit authorizing such activity.

(e) Permits issued under this section may be issued for any period of time not exceeding three years from the date of issuance.

'69.46. Application for Permit.

(a) Applications shall be made on forms supplied by the department, and shall be submitted with the letters of recommendation required by '69.47 of this title (relating to Qualifications). Incomplete applications will not be processed.

(b) Applications must be accompanied by evidence of one the following:

(1) completion of a training course offered by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition or the National Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association within the preceding three years;

(2) attendance at a department-sponsored wildlife rehabilitation conference or a national wildlife rehabilitation conference within the preceding three years;

(3) membership in a state or national wildlife rehabilitation organization; or

(4) a test score of 80 or above on a department-administered wildlife rehabilitation examination.

(c) Permits for the taking or holding of federally protected species shall not be valid unless the permit holder also possesses a valid federal permit.

(d) Except for holders of zoological permits, no person holding a permit authorizing the propagation for sale of protected wildlife shall be authorized to rehabilitate those species.

'69.47. Qualifications.

(a) Wildlife rehabilitation permits may be issued only to qualified individuals who:

(1) are 18 years of age or older; and

(2) have letters of recommendation from two persons who have known the applicant for at least two years. The letters of recommendation must be from:

(A) conservation scientists or game wardens currently employed by the department;

(B) licensed veterinarians; or

(C) permitted wildlife rehabilitators.

(b) Evidence of certification by the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Coalition or the National Wildlife Rehabilitator's Association can be substituted for one of the required letters of recommendation.

'69.48. Permit Renewals.

(a) Renewal applications shall be made on a form provided by the department and shall be submitted with the annual report required by '69.52 of this title (relating to Reports) by no later than January 15 of each year.

(b) Renewal applications shall not be processed until the department has received all reports required by '69.52 of this title (relating to Reports).

(c) The department may deny a renewal if the permittee has violated any of the provisions of the permit, regulations of the department, or federal or state wildlife laws.

'69.49. General Facilities Standards.

All facilities shall be subject to inspections by the department. A first-time applicant's facilities shall be inspected by the department and no permit shall be issued until the facilities are determined to satisfy all of the applicable facilities standards of this subchapter.

(1) The department may specify individual caging requirements on a case-by-case basis.

(2) Clean water shall be available at all times except where medical circumstances require the temporary denial of water.

(3) Feces and waste materials shall be removed on a daily basis except for species which normally re-ingest fecal material.

(4) Cages shall be cleaned and disinfected using non-irritating methods.

(5) A person authorized by permit shall observe and provide care for wildlife at least once daily unless otherwise specified by the permit.

'69.50. Transfers.

A wildlife rehabilitation permit authorizes the permit holder to transfer wildlife to other wildlife rehabilitators legally permitted to hold that species in Texas. Wildlife rehabilitators may transfer lawfully held live wildlife to rehabilitators permitted in other states, provided a letter of authorization from the department has been obtained prior to the transfer.

'69.51. Release of Rehabilitated Wildlife.

(1) A permit holder shall not release wildlife in such a manner or at such a location so that the released animals are likely to become a nuisance or a depredation threat.

(2) Wildlife releases shall not be made in or to fenced or enclosed areas that prevent the animal from leaving at will.

(3) Protected wildlife shall be released only to habitat appropriate for the species.

(4) Permittees may not release wildlife on department property without the permission of the department.

(5) A permittee commits an offense if the permittee is on private property and fails to have on their person the written permission of the landowner, lessee, or operator to be on that property.

'69.52. Reports.

(a) Permit holders shall complete and submit an annual report on a form provided by the department. The report shall include the activities of all individuals listed on the permit.

(b) Reports must be received by the department by January 15 of each year.

(c) Copies of all reports shall be retained at the permitted facility and kept available for inspection by the department for a period of two years.

'69.53. Violations and Penalties.

The penalties for violations of this subchapter are as prescribed by Parks and Wildlife Code, Chapter 43, Subchapter C.


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