Release site providers play a vital role by giving wildlife a second chance back in the wild. Wildlife must be released on private property with the owner’s permission.

There are two types of releases: a “soft” release, where animals (normally squirrels) are kept in an outdoor, protected cage in your yard for about two weeks before release, and a “hard” release where animals are released directly on your property.

Soft-release caregivers provide daily feedings, then sporadic feedings after release for several weeks (or throughout the winter for fall releases). Releases usually occur in June and September. RVWS provides training and ongoing support, as well as caging. Volunteers provide solid foods (e.g., rodent block, seeds, fruit and vegetables). Release sites for squirrels include quiet suburban or rural areas, with hardwood or pine trees, native squirrels in the area, and a deciduous tree in your backyard (without existing squirrel nests) where we can place the squirrel’s nesting box. Squirrels that are accustomed to the outdoors at RVWS can also be hard-released on private property.

Hard-release sites for larger mammals, such as raccoons and skunks, include rural acreages far away from homes, with mixed forest and a water source. These releases usually occur from August to October.


  • homeowner or permission of property owner
  • site visit by RVWS staff to assess release site and surrounding habitat
  • soft release caregivers require an up-to-date tetanus vaccination
  • willingness to feed wildlife (squirrels) for several weeks after release or throughout the winter for fall releases

Time Commitment

Soft release caregivers commit to up to two weeks. Squirrel releases usually occur in June and September. Hard releases of larger mammals usually occur from August to October.

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