Northern Lights Wildlife Society provides young injured and/or orphaned wildlife with a safe and healthy environment to mature into adulthood, upon which they are released back to the wild.

  • Breaking News

    Volunteer Guide

    Volunteers are the backbone of our organization. It is these individuals, who give freely of their time, that make caring for all the animals possible. NLWS has only two paid staff, and many aspects of the wildlife shelter are run by a dedicated group of volunteers.

    It is important for you to learn the 4 stages of becoming a volunteer. You can familiarize yourself with them below:


    Consider that working outside every day in every kind of weather can be extremely hard and it can make for a long day. Contact with animals is limited as we try not to habituate them to humans. This policy includes medical care, which is only given in limited amounts to prevent the animal from being habituated due to excessive handling.

    We now accept applications for stage 4 starting in March and November of 2019 and beyond.

    Please keep in mind that we try to schedule volunteers up to two years in advance to secure ongoing animal care.


    • Minimum 19 years of age
    • Must read and agree to abide by NLWS guidelines and ethics
    • Proof of current medical insurance; Good physical stamina and health, vision & hearing
    • Able to commit for the minimum time frame indicated in the various stages
    • Good communication skills and the ability to work alone as well as in a group
    • Fluid knowledge of the English language, including reading & writing is a must
    • Patient and comfortable around mammals and birds
    • A valid driver’s license would be an asset

    Volunteers Will Be Required to:

    • build and maintain animals enclosures
    • feed and care for a wide variety of young animals ( bear care is generally reserved for staff and volunteers only assist when needed, but you can learn much by observing )
    • assist with capture and release

    Training and Commitment:

    For stages 2-4 must complete 2-4 days of training and shadow a senior volunteer or staff member before starting independent shifts

    Has to show a clear understanding and management of easier tasks before being asked to participate in more complex tasks

    Preference will be given to volunteers that can commit to 12 month to ensure the best possible care for our animals. We welcome students that want to combine their volunteer time with a research project. (please keep in mind when choosing a research project that those would have to accommodate our limited contact policy. For that reason most medical projects are not suitable unless you are researching parasites such as parasites through stool samples)

    It is important for you to learn the 4 stages of becoming a volunteer. You can familiarize yourself with them below:


    Volunteering at a wildlife shelter can be a daunting task and requires dedication, a love for animals and serious commitment.

    Work includes but is not limited to:

    • Pick up of donated food (approximately 17 km one way)
    • Daily preparation of feed for the animals, which includes sorting through donated produce and cutting up meat & fish
    • Cutting up several buckets full, of fruits & vegetables for the daily feed, cleanup of feed dishes/buckets and kitchen (this is probably the task you do the most)
    • Daily cleaning of enclosures (which includes animals with diarrhea and other unpleasant substances)
    • Participation in general maintenance of facilities, such as cleaning and painting
    • Record keeping
    • Housekeeping (some help with dishes and keeping clean the general living areas is requested)
    • General daily work hours:  8 hours, but on some days it can be up to 12 if we have emergencies
    • Baby season May to August may also require night feeding of young animals in need
    • Volunteers will work in shifts to ensure optimal animal care. This is not a 9 to 5 work environment. We start early and stop late.

    Special Notes:

    The care of animals must be secured around the clock and work may include night shifts

    Free Time:

    The norm is that you have one day each week off. If you feel you need extra time to recuperate you can arrange a second day as needed. 
    This is a serious commitment to continues animal care. We rely on you to be present throughout your committed time period. Any vacation or other activity in Canada should be scheduled before or after your volunteer time with us. 
    If you desire (we will not expect this from you) to be a "baby mom" you need to commit to bottle feeding even on your days off when your charges are very young, as they will not accept to be fed by others.
    The same goes for critical patients, the consistent care by one person ensures that small changes are not overlooked and offer the best healing options for your charge.

    Extreme Weather (heat & cold), dirt and living in a remote area must be something you can handle.

    A love for animals and some general experience of caring for an animal is a must.


    • A unique opportunity to work close to wildlife and participate in offering them a chance of survival.
    • Working with us you will be given invaluable knowledge and skills in animal care while increasing your knowledge of local wildlife species, ecology, and urban wildlife management.

    Room and Board (3 to 12 month fulltime continues commitment):

    You will be housed in our Volunteer Quarters, you have your own room with a desk, closet and bed. You share the bathroom and kitchen facilities with other volunteers.

    NLWS provides basic staples for breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as tea and coffee. You are responsible for purchasing special items (such as fruit and snacks) as well as juices,  pop and personal care items.

    We highly recommend that volunteers plan for some personal means of transportation for at least some of the time they are here. The area is beautiful and invites exploration. Tips and suggestions of local attractions are available. No public transportation (except for Taxi services) is available in our area.  No motorized transportation is provided by NLWS, though you might be able to catch a ride now and then on your days off.

    Our buildings are “Smoke free”, but you are welcome to smoke in designated outside areas. A certain amount of participation in household chores is expected (doing dishes after a meal, keeping your room and bathroom clean etc.) you have access to towels and fresh bedding any time and have access to a washer & dryer for your laundry needs.