College or School
Faculty Research Advisor
Wildlife rehabilitation is the temporary intervention by humans on sick or injured wild animals, who would not otherwise survive, with the goal of release. Individual states have their own guidelines for how to become a licensed rehabilitator with extensive standards in place for how to keep such wildlife. The standards help to keep the animals wild for their eventual release and to avoid side effects of Inappropriate Human Possession or IHP. IHP is when an unlicensed person attempts to rehabilitate a wild animal or to keep it as a pet. This study examines the effects of IHP on wildlife patients by comparing length of time in care and final disposition of patients by using an existing wildlife rehabilitation database. Overall, there was no difference between cases involving IHP and cases not involving IHP. Since there is anecdotal knowledge in the rehabilitation field that IHP does influence the animal, there are many reasons that this could not be reflected in this study. The main reason is that this study only looks at while the animals are in captivity and not after release. Release is also thought to be influenced because IHP cases often have clinically healthy animal at admission resulting in quick and frequent release as there is no underlying illness or injury as well as not knowing how long an animal is in Inappropriate Possession before being brought into a rehabilitation center. Further studies should focus on specific species that are more susceptible to imprinting and habituation as well as examining data on how long inappropriate captivity lasts before they are admitted to a wildlife center as that may have proportional effects.
Data obtained from Wildlife Center of Virginia
Frink, Anika, "Impacts of Inappropriate Human Possession of Wildlife on the Animal’s Well-being" (2020). Undergraduate Research Conference (URC) Student Presentations. 472.