Federal & State Regulations

Animal Rescue & Rehabilitation Program

Federal & State Regulations

Federal Regulations & Governing Agencies

  1. All activities concerning animals in the United States are governed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) under the U.S. Department of the Interior (USDI), and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) under the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC).
  2. The USFWS issues Special Purpose Possession permits for the rescue and rehabilitation of birds.
  3. All marine mammals, including stranded animals, are protected by the Marine Mammal Protection Act (MMPA) of 1972. The MMPA is jointly administered by the NMFS and the USFWS. This Act, with certain limited exemptions including enhancement, public display, and research, prohibits the taking and importing of marine mammals and marine mammal parts and products (MMPA).
    • The MMPA is enforced by the NMFS with regard to whales, dolphins, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. The NMFS, through the Secretary of Commerce, has issued letters of authorization to the SeaWorld parks in California, Florida, and Texas that allow them to rescue and rehabilitate these stranded marine animals.
    • Under the MMPA, walruses, sea otters, polar bears, dugongs, and manatees are regulated by the USFWS.

      All marine mammals, including stranded animals are protected by
      the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972.

  4. Some marine mammals, including California sea otters and Florida manatees, also are protected by the Endangered Species Act of 1973. This Act prohibits taking, importing, or exporting any species designated as endangered by the Secretary of the Interior.

    California sea otters are also protected by
    the Endangered Species Act of 1973.

State Regulations

  1. Some state governments require permits for rescuing and rehabilitating certain animals. These permits are issued to the SeaWorld parks in California, Florida, Ohio, and Texas.
  2. SeaWorld of California works with California Fish and Game and other agencies in retrieving animals.
  3. The Marine Turtle Program of The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) rescues stranded sea turtles. Many are turned over to SeaWorld for rehabilitation. These turtles are released when they are healthy.
  4. The Marine Turtle Program sends many rescued sea turtles to
    SeaWorld for rehabilitation then these turtles are released
    when they are healthy.

  5. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 protects the endangered Florida manatee from harm and harassment. In cooperation with the USFWS, the Act sets up refuges, establishes boat speed zones, and oversees other areas of human/manatee interaction.
  6. The Florida Manatee Sanctuary Act of 1978 protects Florida manatees
    from harm and harassment.