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Starting a protected animals shelter

This information is provided by:Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVONetherlands Enterprise Agency, RVONederlandse versie

If you want to start a shelter for protected native animals, such as seals, deer or hedgehogs, that are injured, sick or otherwise weakened, you need dispensation. This applies to the shelter of:

  • native wildlife (hedgehogs, deer, hares, all birds that are native to the Netherlands)
  • marine ammals (such as porpoises and dolphins)
  • exotic animal species (animals that are not native to the Netherlands)
  • invasive exotic species (animals that are not native to the Netherlands and pose a threat to native species)

The Dutch Protected Animals List (Dutch) contains all native protected animal species.

Requirements for shelters

To be eligible for dispensation, several requirements apply, among others those laid down in the quality protocol (in Dutch):

  • Your shelter is a foundation or association.
  • The aim of your shelter is the temporary care and rehabilitation of protected species.
  • The aim of your shelter is to release the animals back into the wild as quickly as possible.
  • You accommodate the animals' natural behaviour as much as possible.
  • You have at least one professional animal carer working for your shelter.
  • You must keep a register (in Dutch) of every animal or group of animals.
  • The shelter provides education on protected species and discourages the keeping of protected animal species.

You apply for the dispensation (Dutch) for exotic animal species to the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and for native protected species to the provincial authority.

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