Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Triage



Lecture outline

  • Introduction
    • What is wildlife rehabilitation?
    • How does wildlife rehab differ from private veterinary practice?
  • Triage
    • Definitions
    • Applying triage to wildlife
    • Case examples
  • Patient assessment
    • Case examples
    • Euthanasia vs. rehabilitation


Sick and injured wild animals often present to veterinary clinics and wildlife rehabilitators.  It can be difficult to know which wild animals will survive the rehabilitation process to release and which won’t.  This presentation will use data from one of the largest wildlife rehabilitation centers in the country to help predict which patients will make it to release and which won’t.  This will help those in involved in wildlife rehabilitation know when to euthanize on admission and when to attempt rehabilitation.  This case-based, interactive presentation aims to bring beginners up to speed, but also offers helpful tips, tricks and insights for the experienced rehabilitator and veterinarian.


About the presenter

Renée Schott is the Medical Director and a Senior Veterinarian at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Minnesota (WRCMN), one of the largest rehabilitation centers in the country.  She has been involved in wildlife rehabilitation for over 15 years and has worked at WRCMN for over 8 years. Additionally, Renée is involved in teaching courses at the University of Minnesota-College of Veterinary Medicine and she is a Course Instructor for the International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council. Renee also does relief work at The Raptor Center in St Paul and is a former member of the National Wildlife Rehabilitators Association Board of Directors.


Webinar recording

Please Note:  AAVSB RACE approval has expired for this webinar recording, however new approval is pending. Please check back later to earn 1 hour of continuing education credit.



With a passing grade of 70% or higher, you will receive a continuing education certificate for 1 hour of continuing education credit in jurisdictions that recognize AAVSB R.A.C.E. approval.

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Expert Q&A

Although Dr. Mozzachio was able to answer most questions submitted during the live event, remaining questions were answered by email and are posted below.

About spinal trauma (with deep pain present) in wild patients, how many days should we wait for improvement to make a decision if to carry on treatment or to euthanize?   
I usually give patients 5-7 days–if i see noticeable improvement, I will give 5-7 more days. If at any time there is no improvement in that 5-7 days, it is time to euthanize because they have plateaued.
What causes those stripped like primary flight feathers on CAGO? I have two like this currently, also frozen into ponds and appear to be elders…   
The stripped feathers in the CAGO I showed were from a droopy wing that the goose would chronically step  on (wing droop was due to an old unhealed fracture).
What treatments would you use for torticollis? Would treatment change if the resolution of symptoms did not progress past a certain point early on, even after 6 months?
Torticollis indicates a problem in the brain. usually in wildlife this is due to trauma, but we cannot rule out other things (infectious things like West Nile virus or Baylisascaris) but the treatment is the same–time and pain medications, low stress environment.  I give them 5-7 days and if i don’t see neurological improvement (i.e. slightly less torticollis) then I euthanize. If they show slight improvement, they get 5-7 more days.  If at any time there is no improvement in that 5-7 days, it is time to euthanize because they have plateaued.


RACE approval

This program 776-36251 is approved by the American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Continuing Education (R.A.C.E.) to offer a total of 1.00 CE credits to any one veterinarian and/or 1.00 veterinary technician CE credit. This RACE approval is for Category Two: Non-Scientific Clinical using the delivery method of Interactive-Distance/Non-Interactive Distance. This approval is valid in jurisdictions which recognize AAVSB RACE; however, participants are responsible for ascertaining each board’s CE requirements. RACE does not “accredit” or “endorse” or “certify” any program or person, nor does RACE approval validate the content of the program.

To cite this page:

Schott R. Basic wildlife rehabilitation triage. LafeberVet Web site. Available at