Native animals may become injured or sick due to disease or other risks, such as being hit by a vehicle, attacked by other animals, or entangled in fencing or netting. Sickness, injury or death of native animals can often result in orphaned young.
Only licensed wildlife rehabilitation providers or registered veterinarians can take a sick, injured or orphaned native animal into care.
What to do if you find an injured, sick or orphaned animal
Responding to wildlife emergencies can be a dangerous activity and untrained responders may cause harm to themselves or the animal. You should not attempt to rescue a native animal if you don't have the proper skills. This is because:
- incorrect handling and transport methods can be stressful for the animal and lead to further injury
- animals are often situated in dangerous locations such as on powerlines or beside busy roads
- many animals can cause serious injuries and even death, for example, venomous snakes, birds of prey, adult kangaroos or koalas, or animals carrying diseases, such as flying-foxes (also called fruit bats).
Contact the Department of Primary Industries if you know or suspect that an animal has a notifiable pest or disease or if you have any suspicion or awareness of a biosecurity event.
You should only attempt to rescue a sick, injured or orphaned native animal not capable of fending for itself if it is safe for both you and the animal.
You must not, however, attempt to rescue snakes, bats, flying-foxes or marine wildlife.
If you find an injured, sick or orphaned native animal:
- you should contact a professional as listed below for help
- you should follow any instructions given by a professional you've contacted for help
- you are not allowed to keep it as a pet – possessing or rehabilitating a native animal without an authority is illegal under the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 and can lead to prosecution.
Who you can contact for help
If you find injured, sick or orphaned native wildlife, you can contact either of the following for help:
- a licensed wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group in the local area or, if it is a marine animal, a group who can help with an injured or sick marine animal.
- the nearest vet in the local area.
- the nearest National Parks area office.
For non-native species, contact the RSPCA or a vet.
Provide the respondent with as much information as possible about the native animal's location. The respondent will then arrange for a trained rehabilitator to rescue the animal.
If possible, you should stay with the animal until a rehabilitator arrives. There are some things you can do while waiting for a rehabilitator as listed below but follow any instructions if they have been provided to you by the respondent.
While waiting for a rescuer or taking an animal to a wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian
If it is safe for both you and the animal, here are some things you can do.
- Cover the animal with a towel or blanket.
- Try to keep the animal calm and safe by placing it in a cardboard box or covered cage if you are able. Ensure the box or cage is secure so the animal can't escape.
- Put the box in a quiet undisturbed dark place and do not offer any food or water unless advised by a vet or wildlife rescuer.
- If it is an orphaned young animal or a bird, it will need to be kept warm.
- Keep any pets and people well away from the area to reduce stress from sight, noise or handling.
How to get involved
If you want to volunteer to rescue and rehabilitate native animals, you can join a wildlife rehabilitation group and take the training required to care for sick or injured native animals so they can be returned to the wild.