You’ve found injured wildlife… now what?
Amid the horrors of Australia’s bushfire crisis, one of the first things on our mind is how best to care for injured wildlife. So, if you’ve come across a hurt or sick animal, what should you do?
We’ve used the incredibly helpful information provided by the expert organisations below to put together a quick guide. Visit their pages for more detail.
- Wildlife Victoria – which also has this handy bushfire fact sheet
- Wildlife Management Tasmania
- RSPCA Australia
- Backyard Buddies
1. Stay safe
First and foremost, do not enter a fire zone during or after a fire. Wait until state emergency authorities have given the all-clear before you approach these zones.
Remember that it is not recommended to approach injured kangaroos, wallabies, possums, koalas or wombats. They require safe handling by specialised wildlife carers. It’s always advisable to follow Step 2, which is…
2. Contact a wildlife carer immediately
Caring for native wildlife requires specialist skills and knowledge. The best thing you can do is get in touch with a professional who can give these creatures the care they need.
3. Slow down
If you’re driving in smoky conditions and visibility is low, slow down to avoid hitting animals that are fleeing fires.
Likewise, in the wake of fire, displaced animals will be moving in greater numbers than usual for several weeks. Take extra care while driving and be sure to report any injured animals by the side of the road.
4. Take care when feeding wildlife
Under normal circumstances, it’s never recommended that you feed wildlife – it can do more harm than good.
You can help by providing clean, shallow bowls of water (preferably from a local source, to avoid spreading pathogens) and safe places to shelter for animals passing through your property.
If you live on a property close to bushfire devastation that has native wildlife passing through it, you may scatter macropod (kangaroo and wallaby) pellets only. Make sure you don’t leave it in piles but scatter it sparsely away from roads, which might bring wildlife close to danger.
You can find lots of information on correctly feeding birds in the wake of fires on the BirdLife website. Make sure you choose food to suit the diet of your local birds. Keep feed areas clean and don’t overload them.
Feeding wildlife can make them dependent on you as a food source, so gradually decrease the amount of food you’re setting out.
Remember, your safety comes first. Never enter a fire zone in order to feed wildlife.
Although it might seem like a great idea to donate consumables, it can mean that wildlife welfare organisations have too much of one thing and too little of others. It can also make it difficult for vets to find the goods and equipment they need quickly and easily in stores. The most effective way to make sure injured animals are getting what they need is to donate directly. Here are some recommended links:
- Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund
- Australian Veterinary Association Bushfire Disaster Relief
- RSPCA National Bushfire Appeal
- RSPCA Victoria Bushfire Appeal
State-by-state contact guide
Australia Capital Territory
RSPCA Australia Capital Territory – phone:
- Injured Wildlife Number (Business Hours): 1300 477 722
- Injured Wildlife Number (After Hours): 0413 495 031
New South Wales
Wildlife Management Tasmania runs the Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Program, available on:
- Injured and Orphaned Wildlife Program – phone: 6165 4305 (business hours)
- Bonorong Wildlife Rescue – phone: 0447 264 625 (all hours)