According to the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators, "Wildlife rehabilitation is a network of individuals and organizations caring for injured, sick and orphaned wild animals with the goal of releasing these animals back into their natural habitat." You can read more at their site: About Wildlife Rehabilitation
In Pennsylvania, wildlife rehabilitators must apply for and be granted a permit by the PA Game Commission. If they work with birds that fly across state lines, they also need to obtain a permit from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. In order to capture and transport animals in need of care to a rehabilitation center, one must hold a Capture & Transport permit. Copies of the official regulations for PA are posted at Red Creek Wildlife Center's intro page for wildlife rehabilitation.
This pamphlet from Red Creek Wildlife Center describes what Wildlife Rehabilitation is like - Wildlife Rehabilitation - Is it for you?
Capture and Transport Specialists
Like Wildlife Rehabilitators, Capture and Transport specialists apply and are granted permits by the PA Game Commission. According to the regulations, "A capture and transportation permittee may capture or receive injured or displaced wildlife for transportation to a wildlife rehabilitator." This blog post from Wildlife Rehabilitation Support of Pennsylvania describes what it's like to be a Capture & Transport Specialist in PA - The Weird World of Capture and Transport
This summer, I was interested in helping our wildlife rehabilitators. I contacted the nearest rehabilitation centers, but these are pretty far from where I live. It seemed impractical for me to volunteer at one of these locations and still maintain my full-time job. One of our local rehabilitators told me about another way that a way that I could help - as a Wildlife Courier.
In Pennsylvania, we have an organization called Wildlife In Need (WIN) Emergency Response Of Pennsylvania, Inc. They coordinate communication and transportation efforts for our state's wildlife rehabilitators. Their mission is to "have volunteers that are permitted in Capture and Transport (C&T) and trained transporters (wildlife couriers) in each county of the state to respond to wildlife that are in need of rescue and transported to a Pennsylvania wildlife rehabilitation center or veterinary service." https://winemergencyresponse.com/about-w-i-n
As a trained Wildlife Courier, I have the opportunity to transport animals in need of care to a Wildlife Rehabilitator. I don't handle the animals directly - caring for them is the job of the Wildlife Rehabilitator and determining their need and containing them is the job of the C&T Specialist. My job is to receive the contained animals and drive them safely to a rehabilitator or veterinarian for care.
I applied as a Wildlife Courier for WIN in May and was trained and accepted in June. So far, I've run two transports for five animals to two different rehabilitation centers. I love being able to help our local wildlife and community :) It's also fun to explore new parts of the state and meet other people who have a passion for nature. If you're interested in becoming a Wildlife Courier in PA, please see the Wildlife in Need webpage https://winemergencyresponse.com for more information. Upcoming training dates will also be posted on their website.