R657-40: Wildlife rehabilitation
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Administrative rule R657-40

Wildlife rehabilitation

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KEY: wildlife, standards, rehabilitation

Date of Last Change: October 1, 2023

Notice of Continuation: November 10, 2020

Authorizing, and Implemented or Interpreted Law: 23A-5-302; 23A-2-305; 23A-5-309

R657-40-1. Purpose and Authority.

(1) Under Sections 23A-5-302, 23A-2-305 and 23A-5-309, this rule provides the standards and procedures for possessing protected wildlife in captivity for rehabilitation purposes. In accordance with the provisions of this rule, the Wildlife Board encourages responsible wildlife rehabilitation by trained and educated individuals as a public service and for the benefit of Utah's wildlife resources.

(2)(a) This rule does not govern the rehabilitation of species of wildlife classified as non-protected wildlife in Subsection 23A-1-101 (40)(b), including coyote, field mouse, gopher, ground squirrel, jack rabbit, muskrat, and raccoon.

(b) Holding raccoons and coyotes in captivity is governed by the Department of Agriculture under Section 4-23-11 and Rule R58-14. Authorization from the Department of Agriculture is required for their live possession.

R657-40-2. Definitions.

(1) Terms used in this rule are defined in Section 23A-1-101.

(2) In addition:

(a) "Apprentice" means a person listed on a certificate of registration for wildlife rehabilitation who is authorized to rehabilitate wildlife under the direct supervision of a wildlife rehabilitator.

(b) "CFR" means the Code of Federal Regulations;

(c) "Direct Supervision" means to provide personal assistance and instruction to an apprentice for wildlife rehabilitation, including prior approval of treatment and disposition of wildlife undergoing rehabilitation.

(d) "Taxa" means the following classes of wildlife species that have similar requirements for food, habitat, and other ecological or behavioral needs pertinent to wildlife rehabilitation:

(i) amphibians;

(ii) reptiles;

(iii) birds, except raptors;

(iv) raptors;

(v) mammals, except big game and carnivores;

(vi) big game mammals; and

(vii) carnivores.

(e) "Wildlife rehabilitation" means to care for injured, sick, orphaned, or otherwise distressed wildlife for the purpose of returning it to the wild.

(f) "Wildlife rehabilitator" means a person authorized by the division to rehabilitate wildlife.

R657-40-3. Certificate of Registration Required.

(1) A valid certificate of registration is required before any person may engage in wildlife rehabilitation or possess protected wildlife in captivity for rehabilitation.

(2) Certificates of registration are issued for the sole purpose of restoring protected wildlife to a condition that it may be returned to the wild. A wildlife rehabilitator may not keep protected wildlife in captivity for any other purpose or exhibit any wildlife held in captivity to the general public without prior written authorization from the division.

(3) Certificates of registration shall specify:

(a) the person responsible for rehabilitation activities and each apprentice acting under the direction of the wildlife rehabilitator;

(b) the taxa or specific species of protected wildlife that may be rehabilitated; and

(c) the locations where rehabilitation activities may occur.

(4) All protected wildlife and its progeny held under a certificate of registration:

(a) shall remain under the jurisdiction of the state of Utah and may not be considered privately owned or legally acquired and shall be returned to the division upon request; and

(b) may not be used for any purpose other than rehabilitation for release to the wild without prior written authorization from the division.

R657-40-4. Application Procedure.

(1) Applications for certificates of registration are available from division offices.

(2) Applicants for:

(a) wildlife rehabilitation must be 18 years of age or older; and

(b) wildlife apprenticeship must be 18 years of age or older.

(3) In addition to a completed application, the applicant for wildlife rehabilitation must provide the following information:

(a) the name, date of birth, mailing address, and phone number of the applicant;

(b) the name, date of birth, mailing address, and phone number of each apprentice;

(c) the street address or an adequate description of the location and all premises where wildlife rehabilitation facilities will be established and maintained;

(d) a detailed diagram of all wildlife rehabilitation facilities and cages in which protected wildlife will be held;

(e) the taxa or species of wildlife proposed to be rehabilitated;

(f) the signature of the applicant and date of submittal of the application;

(g)(i) the name, address, and signed statement from a licensed veterinarian agreeing to assist the applicant in wildlife rehabilitation activities; or

(ii) a copy of a valid veterinary license if the applicant is a veterinarian;

(h) a signed, written statement from a wildlife rehabilitator indicating the applicant has a minimum of two years experience performing wildlife rehabilitation under that person's direction. The experience must have been for an average of at least eight hours per week and for the taxa of animals for which the applicant is applying;

(i) a signed, written statement from the city or county in which the applicant proposes to rehabilitate wildlife granting approval for the proposed activities; and

(j) documentation of a passing score of the exam as provided in Section R657-40-5.

(4) The division may waive the training standards required in Subsection (3)(h) for a specific taxa if it is not possible to obtain the required experience because there are no existing rehabilitators authorized to rehabilitate an apprentice for that taxa.

(5) In addition to the information required in Subsection (3), the division may require additional information for rehabilitating potentially dangerous animals, protection of human safety, or other information that will allow the division to effectively assess the applicant's abilities to rehabilitate wildlife.

(6)(a) If the applicant requests authorization to rehabilitate migratory birds, the applicant must provide a copy of the federal application for a special purpose permit as required under 50 CFR 21.27.

(b) The certificate of registration may not be issued until the federal application is approved by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

(7) Completed applications must be submitted to the Wildlife Registration office located in the Salt Lake division office.

(8) An incomplete application or an application that does not include the information required under this section may be returned to the applicant.

(9)(a) Upon receiving a completed application and the documentation required under this section, a division representative shall inspect the applicant's facilities in accordance with state and federal guidelines.

(b) A certificate of registration will not be issued and an amendment will not be granted to an existing certificate of registration until after the applicant's facilities have been inspected and approved by the division.

(10)(a) The division shall, within 45 days after inspecting the applicant's facility, approve or deny the application based on:

(i) the need for wildlife rehabilitation in the area;

(ii) the applicant's knowledge, background, proficiency, and skill as it relates to wildlife rehabilitation;

(iii) the applicant's facilities and ability to adequately care for injured animals;

(iv) the exam required under Section R657-40-5;

(v) any other relevant information available to the division; and

(vi) whether the applicant has been convicted of a wildlife violation related to the applicant's ability to rehabilitate wildlife or the conviction of any violation that demonstrates a lack of willingness or ability to comply with laws related to wildlife and activities associated with wildlife rehabilitation.

(b) If an application is denied, the division shall provide the applicant with a written notice stating the reasons for denial.

(11) Certificates of registration shall expire three years after the date of issuance.

R657-40-5. Exam.

(1)(a) Before a certificate of registration is issued, the applicant must pass an exam relating to wildlife rehabilitation for the requested taxa and other applicable subject matter.

(b) The exam shall cover wildlife rehabilitation techniques, biology and natural history, habitat requirements, safety considerations in handling and transport practices, and state and federal laws and regulations that apply to rehabilitation.

(2) To pass the exam, the applicant must correctly answer 80 percent of the questions asked for each taxa on the exam.

(3) The exam shall be administered by appointment at division offices. The exam is scored at the Salt Lake division office.

(4) The division shall mail the written score to the applicant within 30 days of taking the examination.

(5) The applicant is required to take only the sections of the examination relevant to the taxa for which the person is applying.

R657-40-6. Rehabilitation Guidelines.

(1) In addition to the provisions of this rule, the division may impose the following restrictions on the certificate of registration:

(a) the taxa or specific species of wildlife that may be rehabilitated;

(b) locations where the wildlife may be held in possession or released;

(c) standards of care and facilities that shall be used for specific species of protected wildlife or individual animals;

(d) length of time that the wildlife may be held in captivity; and

(e) restrictions on the disposal or other disposition of the wildlife.

(2)(a) Wildlife that has been injured, to the extent that it cannot be released to the wild without a reasonable chance of survival, must be immediately euthanized or disposed of as provided in Section R657-40-9 or as otherwise authorized by the division.

(b) The division may allow a rehabilitator to convey an animal to another person for educational use or personally use the animal for an educational use only as provided in Rule R657-3.

(3) Each rehabilitator must have a veterinarian available for consultation who is competent in treating wildlife.

(4)(a) Rehabilitators are responsible for all costs associated with the rehabilitation activities and may not charge a fee or receive any other compensation for wildlife rehabilitation functions performed. All accepted donations are the responsibility of the rehabilitator and are subject to applicable tax laws.

(b) Rehabilitators may not charge a fee for training an apprentice.

(c) Rehabilitators may accept donations to defray expenses or to provide materials and facilities essential to wildlife rehabilitation.

(5) Rehabilitators and apprentices are responsible for understanding and complying with all local, state, and federal laws relevant to wildlife rehabilitation.

(6) Any wildlife undergoing rehabilitation may not be displayed, used for demonstrations, held as a pet, or held for any purpose other than to rehabilitate it for release to the wild.

(7) The rehabilitator is responsible for all actions or omissions of the apprentice relating to wildlife rehabilitation.

R657-40-7. Duration of Care.

(1)(a) Wildlife, except migratory birds, may not be held in possession longer than 180 days without written permission from the division.

(b) Migratory birds may be held in possession only for the time period allowed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

(2) Any request to hold wildlife longer than 180 days must be submitted in writing to the division's Wildlife Registration office in Salt Lake City.

(3) The division may require the wildlife rehabilitator to submit a signed, written statement from a licensed veterinarian setting forth the medical reasons why the extension is necessary.

(4)(a) The division shall notify the rehabilitator in writing whether the request is granted or denied.

(b) Denial of the request shall include the reasons for denial and directions on disposal or other disposition of the animal.

(5) The rehabilitator may retain the wildlife in possession while the division considers the request.

R657-40-8. Release of Wildlife.

(1) Rehabilitated wildlife shall be released according to the stipulations provided on the rehabilitator's certificate of registration and the following provisions:

(a) The animal to be released must have attained physical and psychological maturity and has attained a full state of health and recovery from injury or illness, except black bear cubs as provided in Subsection (2);

(b) The animal must be released at the appropriate time of year taking into account the animal's seasonal needs for habitat, hibernation, and migration;

(c) The animal must be released in the same geographical area where it was obtained or into suitable habitat to sustain it, specifically an area that provides all life-sustaining needs for the animal including natural food, fresh water, cover, and range; and

(d) The animal may not be released into any area where that species does not occur naturally or where there is an immediate threat to the animal or humans, or domestic animals.

(2) Black bear cubs may be released to a den site during the first winter after birth, provided the bear cubs are healthy and are of sufficient weight to sustain them through hibernation.

R657-40-9. Disposal of Wildlife.

(1) Within ten days after any wildlife dies or is euthanized, the rehabilitator shall, except as provided in Subsection (2), dispose of the carcass by burial or incineration, or transport the carcass to a local landfill that accepts animal carcasses.

(2) Migratory birds, bald and golden eagles, and threatened and endangered species, may be disposed of only as provided in accordance with the rehabilitator's federal permit and other applicable federal regulations.

R657-40-10. Records — Annual Report.

(1) Each rehabilitator shall keep a current log showing the date of acquisition, location, and disposition of all wildlife held in possession pursuant the certificate of registration. The log shall be maintained and available for inspection by the division.

(2) On or before January 31, each year, the rehabilitator shall submit a written report to the division of all rehabilitation activities for the previous calendar year.

(3) The annual report must include the following information:

(a) the name, address, and phone number of the rehabilitator and each apprentice;

(b) the federal permit number that relates to any rehabilitative function performed by the rehabilitator; and

(c) an itemized list of each animal held or previously held in captivity pursuant to the certificate of registration.

(4) The itemized list of each animal held or previously held in captivity must include the following information:

(a) species;

(b) injury or condition that required rehabilitation;

(c) source, location, and date of acquisition;

(d) age class at acquisition;

(e) treatment administered;

(f) date and location of release or disposal;

(g) band or identification number if applicable; and

(h) status at the end of the year on the condition requiring rehabilitation.

R657-40-11. Amending the Certificate of Registration.

(1) A rehabilitator may request an amendment to the certificate of registration at any time to add or delete an apprentice or taxon.

(2) The request must be made on a form provided by the division and must include:

(a) a written statement explaining why the amendment is requested;

(b) the documentation required under Section R657-40-4 applicable to the species requested to be added; and

(c) the names, addresses, and phone numbers of any person requested to be added; and

(d) a copy of any documentation required by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, including any request to add a apprentice to the federal permit or to add authorization for additional species of migratory birds.

(3) The division shall approve or deny the request within 60 days of receipt.

R657-40-12. Apprentices.

(1)(a) A rehabilitator may designate individuals to work as apprentices.

(b) Apprentices must be 18 years of age or older.

(2) Each apprentice must be approved by the division and listed on the rehabilitator's certificate of registration.

(3) The rehabilitator must directly supervise each apprentice while engaging in rehabilitation efforts except as provided in Subsection (4).

(4) An apprentice may, without direct supervision:

(a) transport wildlife to or from the rehabilitation facility or to a veterinarian;

(b) release wildlife according to this rule and the rehabilitator's certificate of registration; and

(c) clean and maintain facilities.

(5) A supervising rehabilitator is expected to teach the apprentice the skills necessary to effectively rehabilitate wildlife.

R657-40-13. Termination or Revocation of a Certificate of Registration.

(1)(a) A wildlife rehabilitator may terminate the certificate of registration by submitting written notification to the Wildlife Registration office.

(b) The request for termination must state the requested date of termination.

(c) On or before the date of termination, the wildlife rehabilitator must provide the division with:

(i) an annual report stating all wildlife rehabilitation activity for the past year as provided in R657-40-10;

(ii) an inventory of animals currently held in possession; and

(iii) the location where any animal still held in possession will be transferred.

(2) The division may:

(a) revoke a certificate of registration if the rehabilitator violates any of the provisions of Chapter 23, Wildlife Resources Code, this rule, or the stipulations provided on the certificate of registration; or

(b) revoke or suspend a certificate of registration if the division finds that the rehabilitator is incompetent to rehabilitate wildlife. A finding of incompetency shall be determined based upon the following:

(i) an inordinately high number of wildlife in the care of the rehabilitator die or are not able to be returned back into the wild without sufficient explanation or reasoning; or

(ii) improper or inhumane care or medical treatment is given to the animals in the care of the rehabilitator.

R657-40-14. Renewal.

(1)(a) On or before the expiration date of the certificate of registration, a rehabilitator may apply to renew a certificate of registration by following the procedures provided in Section R657-40-4.

(b) Documentation required by Section R657-40-4 that is on file with the division's Wildlife Registration office does not need to be resubmitted, provided the applicant indicates that the required information is already on file.

(2) The division may deny a renewal application if the rehabilitator:

(a) failed to submit an annual report as required in R657-40-10;

(b) violated any of the provisions of Chapter 23, Wildlife Resources Code or this rule relating to wildlife rehabilitation or any stipulation provided on the certificate of registration;

(c) violated any state or federal animal welfare law during the period in which the certificate of registration was valid; or

(d) jeopardized the safety of a person or any wildlife held in possession or has failed to provide adequate housing, feeding, or sanitary conditions.

R657-40-15. Facilities and Captivity Standards.

(1) All protected wildlife held pursuant to a certificate of registration shall be kept in as humane a manner as possible to safeguard and protect the interests of the protected wildlife held.

(2) All facilities shall meet the following minimum standards:

(a) The facility shall:

(i) be constructed of such strength as is appropriate for the nature of the animal held;

(ii) be properly braced and constructed of material of sufficient strength to resist any force the animal may be capable of exerting against it;

(iii) be constructed in such a manner as to reasonably prevent the animal's escape or the entry of unauthorized persons or other animals;

(iv) be structurally sound, and shall be maintained in good repair in order to protect the animals from injury and to facilitate the humane practices prescribed in this rule.

(b) Each animal shall be supplied with sufficient water to meet its needs. If potable water is not accessible to the animal at all times, it shall be provided as often as necessary for the health and comfort of the animal and the rehabilitator shall ensure that the level of available water is monitored once daily or more often as the needs of the animal dictate. All water receptacles shall be kept in a clean and sanitary condition.

(c)(i) Food shall be wholesome, palatable, and free from contamination, and of sufficient appeal, quantity, and nutritive value to maintain each animal held in good health.

(ii) Each animal's diet shall be prepared based upon the nutritional needs and preferences of the animal with consideration for the age, species, condition, size, and type of the animal, and all veterinary directions or recommendations in regard to diet.

(iii) The quantity of food supplied to each animal shall be sufficient to meet its needs and keep it in good health.

(iv) Each animal shall be fed as often as its needs dictate, taking into consideration hibernation, veterinary treatment or recommendation, normal fasts or other professionally accepted humane practices.

(v) The rehabilitator shall ensure the level of available food for each animal is monitored once daily, except for those periods of time where professionally accepted humane practices dictate that the animal not consume any food during the entire day.

(vi) Food and food receptacle, if used, shall be sufficient in quantity and accessible to all animals in the facility and shall be placed to minimize potential contamination. Food receptacles shall be kept clean and sanitary at all times. Any self-feeding food receptacles shall function properly and the food they provide shall not be subject to deterioration, contamination, molding, caking, or any other process which would render such food unsafe or unpalatable for the animal to be fed.

(vii) Appropriate means of refrigeration shall be provided for supplies or perishable animal foods.

(d)(i) The facility shall be kept sanitary and regularly cleaned as the nature of the animal requires and allows.

(ii) Adequate provision shall be made for the removal and disposal of animal waste, food waste, unusable bedding materials, trash, debris, and dead animals not intended for food.

(iii) The facility shall be maintained to minimize the potential of vermin infestation, disease, and unseemly odors.

(iv) Excrement shall be removed from the primary enclosure facility as often as necessary to prevent contamination of the animals and to minimize hazard of disease and to reduce unseemly odors.

(v) The sanitary condition of the facility shall be monitored by the rehabilitator at least daily.

(vi) When the facility is cleaned by hosing, flushing or the introduction of any chemical substances, adequate measures shall be taken to ensure the animal has no direct contact with any chemical substance and is not directly sprayed with water, steam, or chemical substances or otherwise wetted involuntarily.

(d) A sanitary and humane method shall be provided to rapidly eliminate excess water from the facility. If drains are used, they shall be properly constructed and kept in good repair to avoid foul odors and installed so as to prevent backup or accumulation.

(e) No animal shall be exposed to any human activity or environment which has a harmful effect upon the animal.

(f) Facilities shall not be constructed or maintained in proximity to any physical condition which may give rise to any health threat to the animal, including trash or garbage collection sites and pools of standing water. All persons caring for the animals shall maintain themselves in a sufficiently clean condition when dealing in or around the animal so as to minimize any threat to the health of the animal.

(g) All animals housed in the same facility or within the same enclosed area shall be compatible and shall not pose a substantial threat to the health, life, or well being of any other animal in the same facility or enclosure.

(h) Facilities for the enclosure of animals shall be constructed and maintained to provide sufficient space and to allow each animal adequate freedom of movement to make normal postural and social adjustments. The facility area shall be large enough and constructed in such a manner to allow the animal proper and adequate exercise as is characteristic to each animal's natural behavior and physical need. Facilities for digging or burrowing animals shall have secure safe floors below materials supplied for such digging or burrowing activity. Animals which naturally climb shall be provided with safe and adequate climbing apparatus. Animals which naturally live in an aquatic environment shall be supplied with sufficient access to safe water so as to meet their aquatic behavioral needs.

(3) In addition to the standards set forth in this section:

(a) the division may require additional standards to adequately maintain the health and safety of the animals held and the individuals providing care for the animals; and

(b) facilities used for rehabilitation must meet applicable federal standards provided in 7 USC 2139-2159, Animal Welfare Act, and those regulations promulgated thereunder in 9 CFR Subchapter A, which are hereby incorporated by reference.

(4) Facilities may be inspected at any reasonable time by division representatives.

R657-40-16. Temporary Holding of the Taxa Not Listed on the Certificate of Registration.

The division may issue a temporary holding permit to a licensed rehabilitator to hold taxa of protected wildlife not specifically listed on the rehabilitator's certificate of registration provided:

(1) the rehabilitator has the facilities to hold the taxa of protected wildlife temporarily until the taxa are transported to a licensed rehabilitator for that taxa; and

(2) the temporary holding of the taxa must not exceed 72 hours.

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  • R657-1 — Repealed
  • R657-2
    — Adjudicative proceedings
  • R657-3 — Repealed
  • R657-3a
    — Collection, importation, transportation and possession of animals
  • R657-3b
    — Certification of registration — birds and mammals
  • R657-3c
    — Certification of registration — fish, mollusks and crustaceans
  • R657-4
    — Possession and release of pen-reared gamebirds
  • R657-5
    — Taking big game
  • R657-6
    — Taking upland game
  • R657-7
    — Repealed
  • R657-8
    — Repealed
  • R657-9
    — Taking waterfowl, snipe and coot
  • R657-10
    — Taking cougar
  • R657-11
    — Taking furbearers
  • R657-12
    — Hunting and fishing accommodations for people with disabilities
  • R657-13
    — Taking fish and crayfish
  • R657-14
    — Commercial harvesting of protected aquatic wildlife
  • R657-15
    — Closure of Gunnison, Cub and Hat Islands
  • R657-16
    — Repealed
  • R657-17
    — Lifetime hunting and fishing license
  • R657-18
    — Repealed
  • R657-19
    — Taking nongame mammals
  • R657-20
    — Falconry
  • R657-21
    — Cooperative Wildlife Management Units for small game and waterfowl
  • R657-22
    — Repealed
  • R657-23
    — Utah Hunter Education Program
  • R657-24
    — Compensation for mountain lion, bear, wolf or eagle damage
  • R657-25
    — Repealed
  • R657-26
    — Adjudicative proceedings for a license, permit, tag or certificate of registration
  • R657-27
    — License agent procedures
  • R657-28
    — Use of Division lands — rights of way, leases and special-use permits
  • R657-29
    — GRAMA
  • R657-30
    — Fishing license for the terminally ill
  • R657-31
    — Repealed
  • R657-32
    — Repealed
  • R657-33
    — Taking bear
  • R657-34
    — Procedures for confirmation of ordinances on hunting closures
  • R657-35
    — Repealed
  • R657-36
    — Repealed
  • R657-37
    — Cooperative Wildlife Management Units for big game or turkey
  • R657-38
    — Dedicated Hunter Program
  • R657-39
    — Wildlife Board and Regional Advisory Councils
  • R657-40
    — Wildlife rehabilitation
  • R657-41
    — Conservation and sportsman permits
  • R657-42
    — Fees, exchanges, surrenders, refunds and reallocation of wildlife documents
  • R657-43
    — Landowner permits
  • R657-44
    — Big game depredation
  • R657-45
    — Wildlife license, permit, and certificate of registration forms and terms
  • R657-46
    — Repealed
  • R657-47
    — Repealed
  • R657-48
    — Repealed
  • R657-49
    — Repealed
  • R657-50
    — Error remedy
  • R657-51
    — Poaching-reported reward permits
  • R657-52
    — Commercial harvesting of brine shrimp and brine shrimp eggs
  • R657-53
    — Amphibian and reptile collection, importation, transportation and possession
  • R657-54
    — Taking wild turkey
  • R657-55
    — Wildlife Expo Permits
  • R657-56
    — Lease of private lands for free public walk-in access
  • R657-57
    — Division variance rule
  • R657-58
    — Fishing contests and clinics
  • R657-59
  • R657-59a
    — Private fish ponds
  • R657-59b
    — Short-term fishing events
  • R657-59c
    — Aquaponics
  • R657-59d
    — Institutional aquaculture
  • R657-59e
    — Stocking into natural lakes, natural flowing streams or reservoirs on natural stream channels
  • R657-60
    — Aquatic invasive species interdiction
  • R657-61
    — Valuation of real property interests for purposes of acquisition or disposal
  • R657-62
    — Drawing application procedures
  • R657-63
    — Self defense against wild animals
  • R657-64
    — Predator control incentives
  • R657-65
    — Urban deer control
  • R657-66
    — Military Installation Permit Program
  • R657-67
    — Utah Hunter Mentoring Program
  • R657-68
    — Trial Hunting Authorization
  • R657-69
    — Turkey depredation
  • R657-70
    — Repealed
  • R657-71
    — Removal of wild deer from domesticated elk facilities