Introduction

Apply for a permit to hold protected wildlife for rehabilitation.

You must have a Wildlife Act authorisation (permit) to catch, handle, transfer or hold in captivity any native wildlife for rehabilitation and release. Find out what authorisation you will need and how to apply.

Apply to hold wildlife for rehabilitation

To apply for a Wildlife Act Authorisation (permit):

  1. If renewing an existing permit, complete the Renew authority to hold wildlife in captivity form 9e (PDF, 529K) or (Word, 994K)
  2. If starting a brand new application, complete the General form 9 (PDF, 609K) or (Word, 1,167K).
  3. Provide required supportive evidence (see below).
  4. Send to permissions@doc.govt.nz.

Contact our Hamilton office if you would like more information.

Supportive evidence

If you're applying for a wildlife rehabilitation permit we require the following evidence to assess your application:

  • A list of the species or groups of wildlife you wish to rehabilitate, eg seabirds, penguins, passerines.
  • Description of captive facilities including location and photographs. We may need to view your property and facilities.
  • Details of your affiliations with other facilities, societies or associations; and a letter of support from these organisations.
  • Details of relevant staff skills and/or experience. Training such as certificates in captive animal care, vet nursing, avian first aid/wildlife rehabilitation courses are good evidence. If you have little to no experience, provide evidence that you're working with guidance from experienced rehabilitators or veterinary professionals.

Processing fees

Standard applications take 15 days to process. However, many applications are more complex and will take up to 6 weeks to process. 

Non-commercial applications

Most non-commercial applications will be processed free of charge because they benefit conservation. 

Commercial applications

For standard commercial applications your fee is likely to be $400 plus GST ($460 including GST). 

For complex commercial applications your fee will be $800 plus GST ($920 including GST) (including registered companies). If the application is particularly complex you will be provided with an estimate of processing costs. 

We will invoice you once we have processed your application.

Release of wildlife

Wildlife rehabilitation permits allow holding of wildlife up to three months. If you need to hold the wildlife for longer than three months, seek approval from your local DOC office. Further wildlife release conditions are specified in your permit.

Annual returns

Your annual return details the wildlife held that year. You must complete your annual return by 30 June each year.

Complete the Annual return – wildlife rehabilitation form (Word, 36K) and submit to permissionshamilton@doc.govt.nz

Permanently injured wildlife

Wildlife that is permanently injured and unlikely to survive in the wild should be euthanised. Follow the guideline policy statement on euthanasia of birds from the New Zealand Veterinary Association.

Wildlife which are unable to be released may be held in long-term captivity only if:

  • they are part of an approved captive management programme
  • they are kept for advocacy purposes and the animal will have a good quality of life.

If release is unlikely for a threatened species, you must inform DOC. Contact your local DOC office.

Process for dealing with dead native wildlife

If you are in possession of dead native wildlife contact DOC. A post-mortem examination may be required. Protected species may be used for cultural purposes and/ or research purposes.

Resources

The following resources may help you follow best practice for the care of native wildlife and meet your obligations under your Wildlife Act Authorisation.

Wild City Neighbours: a guide to native bird rehabilitation (PDF, 286K)
This booklet was designed to guide best practice for the rescue and first aid of native birds.

Kiwi first aid and veterinary care guide (PDF, 1,874K)
This guide is specific to the care and medical treatment of kiwi

WReNNZ Minimum Standards
These standards were developed by the Wildlife Rehabilitators Network of New Zealand (WReNNZ) in consultation with the DOC and are considered good practice in the care and rehabilitation of wild birds. They provide guidance regarding the best way to ensure good welfare practices.

Training

Training in Avian Frist Aid, Wild Bird Rehabilitation and other short workshops occur across the country run by several organisations, including:

For specific avian techniques such as blood sampling, crop tubing or bandaging, you can take our free Wildlife Health online course.

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