Legislation

Assembly bill # A2905 & Senate bill # S1577  “The Wildlife Rehabilitators Act”

 

SENATE, No. 1577

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

216th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 27, 2014

 

 

 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Atlantic, Cape May and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

“Wildlife Rehabilitation Act”; establishes Wildlife Rehabilitation Board and continuing education requirements and permit program for wildlife rehabilitators.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

As introduced.

 

AN ACT concerning wildlife rehabilitation and supplementing Title 23 of the Revised Statues.

 

BE IT ENACTED by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

1.    This act shall be known and may be cited as the “Wildlife Rehabilitation Act.”

 

2.    The Legislature finds and declares that:

a.    In the past decade, the number of wildlife encounters has increased while the number of volunteer wildlife rehabilitators in the State has decreased drastically, and seven counties in the State have no wildlife rehabilitators;

b.    The wildlife rehabilitator permitting process was established by the Division of Fish and Wildlife, in the Department of Environmental Protection, in order to support and keep track of individuals rehabilitating wildlife;

c.    Volunteer wildlife rehabilitators demonstrate an interest in helping orphaned or injured wildlife and are an asset to communities all over the State, providing an outlet for the public by responding to calls for help from veterinarians, police departments and State Police, fire departments, the United States Coast Guard, animal control officers, and private individuals, and rehabilitating thousands of animals each year; and

d.    It is in the best interest of the State to increase the number of wildlife rehabilitators and wildlife rehabilitation facilities located throughout the State by: creating an environment that encourages volunteers; eliminating any apparent and real conflicts with the Division of Fish and Wildlife; working with animal rescue groups, veterinarians, animal shelters, animal control officers, and others to establish fair and reasonable training and licensing requirements and educational programs; and supporting wildlife rehabilitation goals that protect the health and wellbeing of citizens and wildlife in this State.

 

3.    As used in this act:

“Applicant” means a person who has applied to the board to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

“Board” means the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board established pursuant to section 4 of this act.

“Department” means the Department of Environmental Protection.

“Permittee” or “permitted wildlife rehabilitator” means a wildlife rehabilitator issued a permit pursuant to section 5 of this act.

“Refusal of entry” means preventing an inspector from entering a facility or premises, preventing an inspector from inspecting an animal, hiding an animal from an inspector, or an act or omission that prevents an inspector from gaining entry to a facility or premises.

“Wildlife rehabilitation” means the process of caring for an injured, orphaned, or sick wild animal, including providing food, housing, and medical care to the animal, and returning the animal to the wild after treatment.

“Wildlife rehabilitator” means a person trained, and permitted, to perform wildlife rehabilitation on specific animals.

 

4.    a.   There is hereby established the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board in, but not of, the Department of Environmental Protection.  The board shall be distinct and separate from the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the department.  The board shall establish permitting requirements for wildlife rehabilitators and shall oversee the permitting, educational training, and programming for wildlife rehabilitators. The board shall have full power and responsibility for providing professional oversight, permitting of wildlife rehabilitators, and developing the Wildlife Rehabilitator Apprentice Program and continuing education programs pursuant to sections 8 and 9 of this act.

b.    The board shall consist of 12 members to be selected and qualified as follows:

(1)   the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, or the commissioner’s designee who shall not be in the Division of Fish and Wildlife, who shall serve ex officio;

(2)   three members, with experience rehabilitating injured wildlife, who shall be recommended by the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association and appointed by the Governor;

(3)   one member who shall be recommended by the Animal Rehabilitators Alliance of New Jersey and appointed by the Governor;

(4)   one member who shall be recommended by the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese and appointed by the Governor;

(5)   one member who shall be recommended by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and appointed by the Governor;

(6)   one member who shall be recommended by the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey and appointed by the Governor;

(7)   one member who shall be a wildlife rehabilitator in New Jersey and appointed by the Governor;

(8)   one member, with experience rehabilitating injured wildlife, who shall be recommended by the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians and Assistants and appointed by the Governor; and

(9)   two members of the public who shall be residents of the State and appointed by the Governor.

c.    Of the 11 members first appointed, three shall be appointed to a term of one year, four shall be appointed to a term of two years, and four shall be appointed to a term of three years.  Thereafter, all appointments shall be for a term of three years, and a member shall not be appointed to serve more than two consecutive three-year terms.

d.    Each appointed member shall serve for the term of the appointment and until a successor shall have been appointed and qualified.  Any vacancy shall be filled in the same manner as the original appointment for the unexpired term only.

e.    No member may be appointed if found in violation of any laws, rules, or regulations concerning wildlife rehabilitation or animal cruelty.  A member found in violation of any laws, rules, or regulations concerning wildlife rehabilitation or animal cruelty shall be immediately removed from the board and the vacancy shall be filled in the manner prescribed pursuant to subsection d. of this section.

f.     The appointed members shall serve without compensation, but may be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties within the limits of funding made available to the board.

g.    The board shall organize as soon as possible after the appointment of its members, and shall select a chairperson from among its members and a secretary who need not be a member of the board.

h.    A majority of the entire board shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.  Action may be taken and motions and resolutions adopted by the board at any meeting thereof by the affirmative vote of a majority of the full membership of the board.

i.     The board shall be entitled to the assistance and service of the employees of the Department of Environmental Protection, and any State, county or municipal department, board, bureau, commission or agency, or a public institution of higher education in the State, as it may require and as may be available to it for its purposes.

 

5.    The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board, in consultation with the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, shall establish a wildlife rehabilitation permit, and shall develop the process and educational requirements necessary for an applicant to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

a.    Prior to applying to the board for a wildlife rehabilitation permit, an applicant shall first receive a federal rehabilitation permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States Department of the Interior or the National Marine Fisheries Service in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, if appropriate or applicable.

b.    The board shall establish permits for:

(1)   mammals:

(a)   class 1 – rabbit, opossum, squirrel, and chipmunk;

(b)   class 2 – raccoon, skunk, porcupine, beaver, mink, otter, and muskrat, in addition to class 1;

(c)   class 3 – fox, coyote, and bat, in addition to classes 1 and 2;

(d)   class 4 – deer and fawn, in addition to classes 1, 2, and 3;

(e)   class 5 – bear and bobcat, in addition to classes 1, 2, 3, and 4;

(f)   special permits for one type of animal other than class 1 or class 2:

(i)   class 6a – fox only;

(ii)  class 6b – coyote only;

(iii) class 6c – bat only;

(iv) class 6d – deer and fawn only; and

(v)   class 7 – bear only; and

(g)   marine mammals:

(i)   class 8a – whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions; and

(ii)  class 8b – walruses, polar bears, sea otters, dugongs, and manatees;

(2)   birds:

(a)   class 1 – passerines and waterfowl;

(b)   class 2 – heron-like birds and seabirds, in addition to class 1; and

(c)   class 3 – raptors, in addition to classes 1 and 2; and

(3)   reptiles and amphibians.

Any permit for marine mammals shall be subject to all federal laws, rules, and regulations and shall be consistent with the requirements for a federal permit for marine mammals.  The board shall provide assistance, as requested or as may be necessary, for marine mammal permit holders and, at the board’s discretion, provide information concerning veterinary or other services to help marine mammal permit holders to be successful in rehabilitating injured wildlife.

c.    Prior to the board issuing a wildlife rehabilitation permit to an applicant, the board shall verify that the wildlife rehabilitation facility and premises have been inspected as required pursuant to section 11 of this act.

d.    Prior to the board issuing a wildlife rehabilitation permit, an applicant shall complete the Wildlife Rehabilitator Apprentice Program established pursuant to section 8 of this act.

e.    A wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the Department of Environmental Protection on or before the date of enactment of this act shall remain permitted as a wildlife rehabilitator for one year after the organization of the board.   Thereafter, a wildlife rehabilitator licensed by the Department of Environmental Protection on or before the date of enactment of this act may remain permitted as a wildlife rehabilitator at the discretion of the board and after completion of an inspection pursuant section 11 of this act.

f.     A wildlife rehabilitation permit issued pursuant to this act shall be valid for two years.   The board shall automatically renew a wildlife rehabilitation permit every two years upon (1) fulfillment by the permittee of continuing education requirements and upon submission to the board of the certificate of completion issued pursuant to subsection d. of section 9 of this act, and (2) verification by the board that a wildlife rehabilitator has not been found in violation of any law, rule, or regulation concerning wildlife rehabilitation or animal cruelty.

g.    A wildlife rehabilitation permit may remain valid if a permittee is not actively rehabilitating and the permitee requested, in writing to the board, that the permit be placed under inactive status.  A permittee may remain under inactive permit status only if continuing education requirements are fulfilled pursuant to section 9 of this act.  If continuing education credits are not maintained, retraining shall be required prior to changing an inactive permit status to active, as determined by the board.

 

6.    a.   The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board shall post information about wildlife rehabilitation on an Internet website, and shall maintain a toll-free phone number for the public to contact to obtain information concerning wildlife rehabilitation.  The Internet website, maintained by the board, shall include a list of permitted wildlife rehabilitators, and the list shall be updated on a monthly basis.  The board shall provide to any applicant information concerning the requirements to become, and actively remain, a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

b.    An applicant may call or make an electronic submission to the board expressing interest in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator.

(1)   The board shall provide information to an applicant that includes contact information for wildlife rehabilitators located in the area of the applicant.

(2)   An applicant shall consult with a wildlife rehabilitator located in their area and volunteer with the wildlife rehabilitator for at least 15 hours.

(3)   Upon completion of the volunteer time, the wildlife rehabilitator shall, within 10 days, notify the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board, in writing, verifying the volunteer work by the applicant.

(4)   Upon completion of the volunteer time, the board shall notify the applicant that the board has received verification of the applicant’s volunteer time.  If the applicant is still interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, the board shall email, or mail upon request, an official application to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

c.    The board may create a standard information form, to be used and submitted by a wildlife rehabilitator, in order for the board to review and verify that an applicant has fulfilled the volunteer time required pursuant to subsection b. of this section.

7.    a.   An applicant shall, after completing the requirements set forth in section 6 of this act, submit an official application to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board to receive a wildlife rehabilitation permit.  The board shall, within 30 days after receipt of an application, review the application and determine if the applicant is qualified to become a wildlife rehabilitator.

b.    Upon determination by the board that an applicant is qualified to become a permittee, the applicant shall fulfill the apprentice program requirements established pursuant to section 8 of this act.

c.    The board shall be authorized to deny, suspend, or revoke a wildlife rehabilitation permit.

(1)   Upon determination by the board that an applicant is not qualified or is ineligible to become a permittee, the board shall provide to the applicant a written statement setting forth the reasons for the denial of the permit.

(2)   Upon determination by the board that a permit shall be suspended or revoked, the board shall provide to the permittee a written statement setting forth the reasons for the suspension or revocation of the permit.

(3)   Upon determination by the board that an applicant shall be denied a permit pursuant to this section or that a permit shall be suspended or revoked pursuant to this subsection, an applicant or permittee may, within 30 days after the date of issuance of the denial or revocation notice, request a hearing for a review of the determination.  The board shall grant a hearing to the applicant or permittee within 30 days after receipt of the notice.

d.    A permittee wishing to reinstate or retain a permit prior to suspension or revocation shall allow inspection personnel of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board to inspect, at a reasonable time, the rehabilitation facility and the animal or animals to determine compliance with permit and inspection requirements, as set forth by the board.

 

8.    The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board, in consultation with the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, shall establish a Wildlife Rehabilitator Apprentice Program.

a.    An applicant shall fulfill specific criteria, prior to completion of the apprentice program, including working at:

(1)   a veterinary facility at least once a week, for no less than six months and up to one year; and

(2)   a wildlife rehabilitation facility at least once a week, for no less than six months and up to one year.

The term of apprenticeship at the veterinary facility and wildlife rehabilitation facility shall be determined by a veterinarian or rehabilitator, as applicable, in consultation with the applicant and based on the applicant’s individual progress at the respective facility.

b.    An applicant shall satisfactorily complete a course on the biology or anatomy of animals or wildlife science, or a substantially similar course provided by a veterinarian, by a college, or online through the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association or the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council, and as approved by the board.  A biology or anatomy of animals or wildlife science course, or a substantially similar course, may be counted towards the continuing education requirements, as set forth in section 9 of this act.

 

9.    The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board, in consultation with the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association, shall establish continuing education requirements for a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.  A permittee shall fulfill specific criteria, as set forth by the board, prior to renewal of a wildlife rehabilitation permit pursuant to subsection f. of section 5 of this act.

a.    The board shall approve educational courses to fulfill the continuing education requirements, such as veterinarian classes or college courses, as well as courses specific to the class of mammals, birds, or reptiles for which a permit may be issued.

b.    The continuing education requirement shall provide for a permittee to complete at least 12 hours of instruction in each two-year permit cycle.

c.    The board may determine if a yearly schedule for attaining credits shall be required of a permittee.

d.    Upon fulfillment of the continuing education requirements, a permittee shall provide verification to the board that the permittee has completed the education coursework. If a certificate of completion is issued by a college or other education provider, that certificate shall be considered proper documentation for the purposes of renewing a permit issued pursuant to subsection f. of section 5 of this act.

 

10.  The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board shall establish requirements for the possession of permanently injured wildlife and endangered or threatened permanently injured wildlife species, and shall additionally authorize a retired permit.

a.    A wildlife rehabilitator applying for a permit to possess permanently injured wildlife or endangered or threatened permanently injured wildlife shall meet all criteria for a federal permit therefor from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service in the United States Department of the Interior or the National Marine Fisheries Service in the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, if appropriate or applicable.  The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board shall receive a copy of the federal permit to review prior to issuing a State permit for the possession of permanently injured wildlife or endangered or threatened permanently injured wildlife species.

b.    A wildlife rehabilitator applying for a permit to possess permanently injured wildlife or endangered or threatened permanently injured wildlife shall submit, to the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board, a written description of the housing and caging facilities intended for the species in question. The submission shall include a summary of a continuous feed source available for the specific diet of the animal. An inspector, authorized by the board pursuant to section 11 of this act, shall inspect the facility and premises to determine if they are suitable for the intended species.

A wildlife rehabilitator shall demonstrate to the satisfaction of the board that the security of the housing, caging and other containment area of the facility, as applicable, protects the animal and the public.

(1)   Facilities shall be constructed to prevent (a) the possible escape of the animal, and (b) public access to the animal, except those animals that are used for educational purposes.

(2)   Veterinarian service shall be ready and available to an animal at all times.

c.    The board shall issue a special permit for the possession of specific individual species classified as endangered or threatened wildlife to a wildlife rehabilitator who fulfills the following criteria:

(1)   submission to the board of a detailed written proposal for (a) education, and (b) provision of a natural environment to injured wildlife to live out their lives comfortably and safely. The submission shall be completed by the wildlife rehabilitator, and shall include an explanation on the use of the species in question and demonstrate that the health of the animal will not be jeopardized;

(2)   submission to the board of written records detailing the wildlife rehabilitator’s relevant education, past and current research, publications, funding, equipment and any other information, including a personal demonstration as may be required by the board, which demonstrates to the satisfaction of the board that the wildlife rehabilitator has the knowledge and expertise in handling and caring for that specific species, and that it is reasonably probable that the wildlife rehabilitator will accept guidance from the board to improve upon that expertise;

(3)   upon determination by the board that the wildlife rehabilitator has failed to comply with the conditions set forth in paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, the board shall suspend or revoke the special permit and place the animals possessed pursuant to the special permit under immediate constructive seizure, pending permanent removal of the animals from possession of the wildlife rehabilitator by the board and at the wildlife rehabilitator’s own expense;

(4)   submission to the board reporting on the disposition of the animal that is the subject of the special permit, no later than the 15th day following the end of a six-month period for the first year and biannually thereafter; and

(5)   the wildlife rehabilitator shall acknowledge, in writing, releasing the board, any sponsoring organization, or any professional monitoring the wildlife rehabilitator’s work, from liability for any damages arising from the suspension or revocation of a special permit issued by the board. Upon the suspension, revocation, or expiration of a special permit, the wildlife rehabilitator shall be solely responsible for all costs of maintaining and relocating, at the discretion of the board, all the animals possessed under the special permit.

 

11.  a.   The Wildlife Rehabilitation Board shall develop inspection requirements for each class of permits prescribed in subsection b. of section 5 of this act, and shall use the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association guidelines as the basis for the requirements for inspection.  The requirements shall include inspection of the space, and cage if applicable, for an animal, and the capacity of the facility and premises for multiple animals.

b.    The board shall approve and authorize persons to conduct inspections of wildlife rehabilitation facilities and premises.  Inspectors shall serve at the discretion of the board for a three-year term and no inspector may serve for two sequential terms.

c.    Each wildlife rehabilitation facility and premises shall be inspected on an annual basis.

d.    At the time of an inspection, the inspector shall provide a copy of the inspection documentation to the wildlife rehabilitator.  The inspection documentation shall include space for the inspector to remark on any deficiencies found and what corrective actions are required.  The inspector shall submit the inspection documentation to the board within three days after the inspection.

e.    Upon failure to satisfactorily fulfill inspection requirements, and within 15 days after inspection, a wildlife rehabilitator may submit a letter to the board indicating the wildlife rehabilitator’s response to any inspection violation, an explanation of the conditions in the inspection documentation, and the intended corrective action to be taken by the rehabilitator.

f.     (1) All reasonable corrective action shall be completed by a wildlife rehabilitator within 30 days after the board’s receipt of a letter, pursuant to subsection e. of this section.

(2)   The board shall agree to any significant work necessary to meet inspection requirements, and documentation, including a contractor quote for cost and timeframe of completion if applicable, shall be submitted to the board by the wildlife rehabilitator.

g.    A wildlife rehabilitator shall notify the board after completion of any corrective action.  Within 30 days after notification, a wildlife rehabilitation facility and premises shall be re-inspected by an approved inspector to ensure completion of corrective action of the original violations only.

h.    When an inspector attempts an inspection of a wildlife rehabilitation facility and its premises, and no person is present to grant access, the inspector may post an order on an entrance to the facility demanding access to the facility within three days. Failure to permit an inspection within three days, as indicated in the posted order, shall constitute a refusal of entry for purposes of this section, unless there are no animals at the facility, or the wildlife rehabilitator and the inspector who posted the order agree within the three days indicated in the posted order to permit an inspection at a time agreed to by both parties.  It shall be an affirmative defense to this subsection that there were no animals at the facility at the time the order was posted.

 

12.  a.   A wildlife rehabilitator may release an animal within 10 miles of where the animal was found, and may release an animal at a State park or forest, with the approval of the Division of Parks and Forestry in the Department of Environmental Protection, if the animal was originally found near or in the park, forest, or wildlife management area.

b.    A wildlife rehabilitator may recommend placement of a non-releasable animal to a zoo and, upon approval by the board in consultation with the zoo, may place the animal at the zoo.

 

13.  Notwithstanding any provisions of law to the contrary, an individual, including a person licensed to practice any method of treatment of animal ailments, disease, pain, injury, deformity, mental or physical condition, or licensed to render services ancillary thereto, or any person who is a volunteer member of an animal rescue organization or shelter, who in good faith renders emergency care at the scene of a natural accident or emergency to the animal or animals thereof, or while transporting the animal or animals thereof to a veterinary hospital or other facility where treatment or care is to be rendered, shall not be liable for any civil damages as a result of any acts or omissions by such person in rendering the emergency care, so long as a person contacts a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian as soon as possible and the animal is transported within 48 hours to a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

 

14.  This act shall take effect on the 180th day after the date of enactment, but the Commissioner of Environmental Protection may take such anticipatory administrative action in advance thereof as shall be necessary for the implementation of this act.

 

STATEMENT

 

This bill, which would be known as the “Wildlife Rehabilitation Act,” would establish the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board (“board”), and the board would develop the permitting process and educational requirements for wildlife rehabilitators in the State.

The bill would establish the Wildlife Rehabilitation Board in, but not of, the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) but would require the board to be distinct and separate from the Division of Fish and Wildlife in the department.  The board would establish permitting requirements for wildlife rehabilitator professionals and would also oversee the permitting, educational training, and programming for wildlife rehabilitator professionals. The 12 members of the board include: the Commissioner of the DEP, or the commissioner’s designee who would not be in the Division of Fish and Wildlife, and who would serve ex officio; three members recommended by the New Jersey Veterinary Medical Association (NJVMA); one member recommended by the Animal Rehabilitators Alliance of New Jersey; one member recommended by the Coalition to Prevent the Destruction of Canada Geese; one member recommended by the New Jersey Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals; one member recommended by the Associated Humane Societies of New Jersey; one member who is a permitted wildlife rehabilitator in New Jersey; one member recommended by the New Jersey Veterinary Technicians and Assistants; and two members of the public who are residents of the State and appointed by the Governor.

Prior to becoming a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, an applicant would first be required to obtain a federal rehabilitation permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service, if appropriate or applicable, and upon receipt of this permit, the applicant would be able to apply for a wildlife rehabilitation permit from the board.  The board would establish permits for classes of mammals, including marine mammals, birds, and reptiles and amphibians and would verify, prior to the issuance of a wildlife rehabilitation permit, that the wildlife rehabilitation facility and premises have been inspected.

A wildlife rehabilitation permit would remain valid for two years.  Wildlife rehabilitators with current licenses from the Division of Fish and Wildlife on or before the date of enactment of this bill into law would remain permitted for one year after the organization of the board, and thereafter may retain their permit for wildlife rehabilitation at the discretion of the board.  The board would automatically renew a wildlife rehabilitation permit every two years upon: (1) fulfillment by the permittee of continuing education requirements and upon submission to the board of the certificate of completion, and (2) verification by the board that a wildlife rehabilitator has not been found in violation of any law, rule, or regulation concerning wildlife rehabilitation or animal cruelty.

Under the bill, the board would post information about wildlife rehabilitation on an Internet website, and would maintain a toll-free phone number for the public to contact.  An applicant would be required to consult with a wildlife rehabilitator located in their area and volunteer with the wildlife rehabilitator for at least 15 hours.  An applicant would receive notice from the board upon completion of volunteer time, and if the applicant is still interested in becoming a wildlife rehabilitator, the board would email, or mail upon request, an official application to become a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.  An applicant would also need to complete an apprentice program prior to becoming a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.

The board would be authorized to deny, suspend, or revoke a wildlife rehabilitation permit.  Upon submission of an official application, the board would, within 30 days of receipt, review the application and determine if the applicant is qualified to be a permitted wildlife rehabilitator.  If a permit is denied, suspended, or revoked, the board would provide to the applicant or permittee a written statement setting forth the reasons for the denial, suspension, or revocation of the permit.  An applicant or permittee may, within 30 days after the date of issuance of the denial or revocation notice, request a hearing for a review of the determination, which the board must grant within 30 days.  A permittee wishing to reinstate or retain a permit after suspension or revocation would be required to allow the board’s inspection personnel to inspect, at a reasonable time, the facility of the animal or animals to determine compliance with permit and inspection requirements.

Under the bill, the board, in consultation with the NJVMA, would establish a Wildlife Rehabilitation Apprentice Program, and an applicant would be required to work at least once a week, for no less than six months and up to one year, at both a veterinary facility and a wildlife rehabilitation facility.  The board would also establish continuing education requirements for a permitted wildlife rehabilitator, which would include completing at least 12 hours of instruction in each two-year permit cycle.

Additionally, the board would establish requirements for the possession of permanently injured wildlife and endangered or threatened permanently injured wildlife species, and would additionally authorize a retired permit.  A wildlife rehabilitator must first meet all criteria for a federal permit from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service or the National Marine Fisheries Service, if appropriate or applicable, and would submit information to the board and allow the facility and premises to be inspected, demonstrating to the satisfaction of the board that the security of the housing, caging and other containment area of the facility, as applicable, protects the animal and the public.  The board would issue a special permit for possession of specific individual animals classified as endangered or threatened wildlife to a wildlife rehabilitator who submits certain information to the board.

The board would also develop inspection requirements for each class of permits, based on the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association guidelines for inspection, and would authorize persons to conduct inspections of wildlife rehabilitation facilities and premises.

Section 13 of the bill is a “good Samaritan” clause that provides immunity from civil liability for a person providing emergency care to an animal or animals at the scene of a natural accident or emergency, so long as the person contacts a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian as soon as possible and the animal is transported within 48 hours to a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian.

Currently, the Division of Fish and Wildlife oversees wildlife rehabilitation and a person may apply to the division to become a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.  A licensed wildlife rehabilitator is required to complete a one-year minimum apprenticeship, questionnaire, and inspection, submit reports, and acquire various permits. It is also recommended that a licensed wildlife rehabilitator participate in continuous education.