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PLoS One. 2017 Jul 18;12(7):e0181331. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0181331. eCollection 2017.

Morbidity, outcomes and cost-benefit analysis of wildlife rehabilitation in Catalonia (Spain).

Author information

Centre de Fauna Salvatge de Torreferrussa, Catalan Wildlife Service, Forestal Catalana, Santa Perpètua de Mogoda, Spain.
Departament de Biologia evolutiva, ecologia i ciències ambientals-Institut de Recerca de la Biodiversitat (IRBio), Universitat de Barcelona, Facultat de Biologia, Avinguda Diagonal, Barcelona, Spain.
Departament de Sanitat i Anatomia Animals, Facultat de Veterinària, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB), Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.
Centre de Recerca en Sanitat Animal (CReSA), Institut de Recerca i Tecnologia Agroalimentàries (IRTA), Campus UAB, Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.



There are few studies of careful examination of wildlife casualties in Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers. These studies are essential for detecting menaces to wild species and providing objective criteria about cost-benefit of treatments in those centers. The release rate is considered the main outcome indicator, but other parameters such as length of stay at the center and a cost-benefit index expressed as number of released animals per euro and day, could be used as reliable estimators of the rehabilitation costs.


A retrospective study based on 54772 admissions recorded from 1995-2013 in the database of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center of Torreferrussa (Catalonia, NW Spain) assessed the morbidity, outcomes and cost-benefits of the rehabilitation practices.


Three hundred and two species were included: 232 birds (n = 48633), 37 mammals (n = 3293), 20 reptiles (n = 2705) and 13 amphibians (n = 141). The most frequent causes of admission were: 39.8% confiscation of protected species (89.4% passerines), 31.8% orphaned young animals (35.3% swifts, 21.7% diurnal raptors and owls) and 17.4% trauma casualties (46.7% raptors and owls). The highest proportion of releases was found in the captivity confiscation category [87.4% passerines (median time of stay: 12 days)], followed by the orphaned category [78% owls (66 days), 76.5% diurnal birds of prey (43 days), 75.6% hedgehogs (49 days), 52.7% swifts (19 days) and 52% bats (55 days)]. For the trauma group, 46.8% of releases were hedgehogs (44 days) and 25.6% owls (103 days). As regards the cost-benefit index, the trauma casualties and infectious diseases had the worse values with 1.3 and 1.4 released animals/euro/day respectively, and were particularly low in raptors, waders, marine birds and chiroptera. On the contrary, captivity (4.6) and misplacement (4.1) had the best index, particulary in amphibian, reptiles and passerines.


Cost-benefit studies including the release rate, the time of stay at the center and the cost-benefit index should be implemented for improving management efficiency of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Centers.

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