The Cost of Wildlife Rehabilitation

Someone asked me the other day how much it would cost to rehabilitate the owl she brought us. She wanted to make a fair donation towards his care and the tally was something not at the tip of my tongue. Now I've had a chance to think about it and I thought I'd share with everyone my thoughts on this subject. Fortunately, we're still able to operate as a 100% volunteer organization. Otherwise the cost would be higher yet. As it is, here's the breakdown of expense categories:
  • Veterinary Care: medicine, x-rays, office visits, bandaging supplies, syringes, etc.
  • Food: at about $2.00 per rat, raptors can get expensive!
  • Utilities: lots of laundry needs doing and heat needs to be provided
  • Supplies: cleaning agents, paper towels, caging, heating pads, heat lamps, extension cords, etc.
  • Transportation: we drive hundreds of miles every month doing rescues, veterinary visits, and supply runs, not to mention our educational presentations around the state.
  • Labor: yes, we're 100% volunteer, but imagine if we weren't!

So, add all elements from within each category and you have the initial care of a wild raptor. Then, multiply your total times ninety days, the average time a bird is in our care, and you have your total. I still can't give an exact number, but I can say that it's not cheap by any stretch of the imagination. Everything we don't get in donations comes out of our own pockets. At times, the burden is heavy.

Because of this hefty price, many rehabilitators cease operations within three years. HAWK Center attempts to relieve some of this burden by sharing our excess with our fellow Arkansas wildlife rehabilitators, because not one rehabilitator in our state is compensated for his or her efforts. We have been fortunate to be able to share our rat supply as well as some donated supplies. It would be fantastic some day to have a facility where volunteers didn't have to fork out of their own pockets! Meanwhile, we'll keep doing what we're doing, looking towards the future with foresight and careful planning.

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