Getting Authorized






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Becoming a Provincial Ministry of Natural Resources Authorized Wildlife Custodian


Provincial Authorizations for Wildlife Custodians are issued by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. You need to contact your District MNRF Office and speak to the Wildlife in Captivity Specialist to obtain more information about the process.  OWREN does not issue Authorizations nor do we conduct facility inspections.


A list of MNRF offices can be found at the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry website. 


Anyone interested in becoming a provincially authorized wildlife custodian should familiarize themselves with the legislation that governs wildlife rehabilitation - The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act (RSO 1997). Part III, Section 44 pertains to wildlife rehabilitation. You can read or download a copy of the Act on the MNRF website.


Of interest to wildlife rehabilitators are these Regulations:




It is strongly recommended that individuals who want to become Authorized Wildlife Custodians or who would like to work as MNRF Registered Foster Care Givers for an AWC or just help out by volunteering at wildlife centres, take a Wildlife Rehabilitation Basic Skills training course first. 


OWREN is the provincial leader in providing this type of specialized training through our courses designed for Ontario wildlife rehabilitators. For more information on our training courses, just click on the Courses/Conferences tab on the left menu bar or at the bottom of this page.


Those who successfully complete OWREN's Wildlife Rehabilitation Basic Skills Course, and pass the written exam with a score of 80% or better are not required to write the Ministry's Ontario Wildlife Rehabilitation Exam (OWRE). NOTE:  Simply passing the course or the Ministry's OWRE, does not automatically confer a wildlife custodial authorization on the individual.  You must still  complete and submit an application for authorization to the Ministry. Application forms are available at your local district MNRF office. 


Working with Rabies Vector Species in Ontario


Those who wish to work with Rabies Vector Species (RVS) in Ontario (those species are raccoons, foxes, skunks and bats) must also take a second course to acquire their RVS authorization.  If you volunteer as a MNR Registered Foster Care Giver and want to provide this care under the authorization of an existing Authorized Wildlife Custodian (AWC) but do so off the property of the person holding the AWC, you MUST take the MNR's RVS home study course.  You would study the materials and then arrange to write the exam at the MNR district office.  You must obtain a passing grade on this exam as well.  You do need to be working under the direction of an AWC to perform this off-site.  If you volunteer at the facility that holds the AWC, it is not necessary for you to get the RVS authorization. 


Additionally, all Registered Foster Care Givers must be vetted by the AWC under whose permit they will work in order to provide care for any species of wildlife off-site.  These agreements must be signed and provided to the MNR prior to your taking any wildlife into your possession.  The AWC has a legal obligation to visit and inspect your home/property to ensure that you are in compliance with the Conditions of their authorization.  This is a requirement.  You will be required to provide a map of your rehabilitation areas along with your signed Foster Care Giver agreement to the AWC.  Before taking any wildlife into your possession under a Foster Care Giver agreement, the AWC must have assessed the wildlife first.  Once that is done, you can then take the wild animal home to rehabilitate under their direction. 


Federal Wildlife Permits:


Migratory birds are protected under the legal authority of the Canadian Wildlife Service.  An application to permit you to have these species in your possession for the purposes of wildlife rehabilitation must be made by you.  You will be asked to provide references and letters recommending the need for your services in your area along with other supporting documentation. 


Contact the Ontario district office directly for more information on obtaining a federal Migratory Birds permit for rehabilitation:


Canadian Wildlife Service
Environment Canada
P.O. Box 5050, 867 Lakeshore Road
Burlington, Ontario
L7R 4A6
(905) 336-6410



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Last modified: 09/04/17 03:38 AM