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Release Site Volunteers

How You Can Help

Would you like to be a Release Site Volunteer?

There are two types of releases - Hard Releases and Soft Releases.  Hard releases just require the appropriate habitat (as described below) and access to your land by NWR staff and volunteers.  Soft releases require habitat and the ability to keep a cage either temporarily or more permanently on your land (for use over several years). With soft releases, we can assign a staff member or volunteer to visit your property daily to care for the animals during their acclimation period, or you can train in the skills need to care for the animals before and after their release!

General Requirements

All release sites should:

  • Be in the state of Nebraska
  • Be outside of city limits
  • Be a minimum of 10 acres (but larger is generally better, depending on the species)
  • Be a distance from closest neighbors
  • Have a reliable water source (creek, stream, pond, etc.)
  • Have appropriate habitat
  • Have natural food sources for the species to be released
  • Must be owned by volunteer or landowner permission must be granted in writing
  • Must be accessible to NWR staff
  • Not allow trapping of any kind on the property
  • Not allow hunting of the released species on the property
  • Be the appropriate region of the state for the species being released.

Volunteer application and release forms are required from each adult living on or owning the property.

Hard Releases

A hard release is one in which wildlife is simply released on the property. Hard releases must meet the requirements listed above, but provided NWR staff have access to the property for inspection and release, no further requirements are needed.

Soft Releases

A soft release is one in which the animals spend some amount of time (generally 1-6 weeks depending on the species) in a cage on the property, acclimating to their surroundings.  When NWR staff deems it's appropriate, the door to the cage is opened and the animals are allowed to leave on their own.  After their departure, backup food and water is provided to help ease the animals' transition into the wild.  Backup food is provided for 2 to 12 weeks, depending on the species, with the frequency of backup feedings decreasing over time until they are discontinued.

Considerations for landowners who would like to allow soft releases on their land are:

  • NWR will provide the cage, but assistance in building and maintaining the cage is appreciated when possible. We can use portable caging or if you'd like to volunteer several years in a row, can build a less movable cage on your property.
  • An adult will need to provide care for the animals daily while in the cage and for some period of time after they are released.  This can be the landowner or in some cases, NWR staff or other volunteers can do this.  Minors are prohibited from entering the cage or providing care to wild animals in rehabilitation.
  • The animals are in a sensitive part of their journey back into the wild. You will not be permitted to bring neighbors, friends, etc. to view the animals while they are in a pre-release enclosure on your land or to engage with or handle the animals. This is an important time for them, and the fewer human interactions they have, the better their chances at survival will be.
Interested in getting started?

Please complete our Volunteer Application and submit it to us by e-mail to or by mail to:

NWR | 9777 M Street | Omaha, NE 68127

You will be asked to go through an orientation (either in person or online) and to provide a list of species you'd be willing to release on your property.  If you have any questions, just e-mail us and we'd be happy to answer them.

We appreciate your partnership in helping our patients return to the wild!

  • NAM
  • Guidestar Platinum 2021
    Guidestar Platinum 2021