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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A survey of wildlife rehabilitation goals, impediments, issues, and success in British Columbia, Canada Dubois, Sara

Abstract

Wildlife rehabilitators have various levels of training, most relying on their personal experience, while many also work to some degree with veterinarians. Rehabilitators also operate within a regulatory framework created by government agencies. Based on their own experience and training, these groups may have different perceptions of the value of wildlife, of rehabilitation goals, and of its impediments. Additionally, there is great scope for disagreement on numerous practice issues such as methods of care and euthanasia. Disclosure of these value positions and issues is important in resolving how stakeholders can work together more effectively to promote the welfare of individual wildlife. Also, to assess the accomplishments and areas of improvement for rehabilitation, it is important to identify what constitutes rehabilitation success and determine how to effectively evaluate success. Therefore, this study aims to describe rehabilitation goals, impediments, and issues, and discuss rehabilitation success and its measures, among stakeholders. This is achieved through a comprehensive survey, using interviews, questionnaires, and analysis of summary records. Participants in all three groups saw the primary goals of rehabilitation as humane treatment and public education; however, rehabilitators recognized a wider range of goals than others. This may help to explain why, despite members of all groups identifying multiple components of rehabilitation success, more rehabilitators had a broader view of success than others. Rehabilitators further differed from other stakeholders when discussing rehabilitation impediments; most participants cited money, however, over half the rehabilitators also felt that a lack of non-monetary assistance or acknowledgement by government were important impediments. Major disagreements exist on the care of nonnative species and the use of non-releasable animals for education. Although consensus was not achieved in all areas, consistent data recording and analysis, promotion of existing care and euthanasia guidelines, and increased enforcement and care assessments by a team of stakeholders, may serve to better inform practices and decision-making within the rehabilitation community. Finally, rehabilitation success of treating animals can be assessed by comparing facility operation and care methods to accepted professional standards, while other aspects of the program, such as public education, could be evaluated by surveying feedback.

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