Rehabilitation of injured, sick or orphaned native animals

NSW has an active network of volunteer groups who rescue injured, sick or orphaned native animals. These groups have an important role in:

  • relieving the suffering of individual animals by providing appropriate medical treatment and care
  • fostering an understanding of native animals and the natural environment within the wider community
  • broadening our knowledge of wildlife biology and the threats facing particular species
  • conserving wildlife populations by successfully returning healthy animals to their natural habitat.

The recently commenced Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016 provides for accreditation of wildlife rehabilitation services. OEH will work together with wildlife rehabilitation services through a consultation process to develop a new wildlife rehabilitation accreditation scheme. It is expected the accreditation scheme will commence in late 2018. Until then, licensing of wildlife rehabilitation services will be retained.

The Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) licenses 28 groups, 27 Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) branches and 29 individuals to rehabilitate native animals. Some groups specialise in particular species such as koalas, flying-foxes or marine turtles, whereas others cover a wide range of species.
Each group and branch operates in a defined geographic area (WildlifeRehabMap.pdf, 1.9MB).

What to do if you find an injured, sick or orphaned animal

If you are not a member of a licensed rehabilitation group you should not attempt to rescue a native animal. 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 (e.g. venomous snakes, bats carrying Australian Bat Lyssavirus and birds of prey).

If you find an animal that is suffering from an injury, disease or is orphaned, you should contact a licensed rehabilitation group or call OEH.

Provide the operator with as much information as possible about the animal’s location. The rehabilitation group will then arrange for trained volunteers to rescue the animal. If possible, you should stay and observe the animal until the rescuers arrive.

Only people authorised under an OEH wildlife licence may take a native animal into care. Rehabilitating a native animal without an authority is illegal and can lead to prosecution. You are not allowed to keep rescued native animals as pets.

More information

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Page last updated: 28 August 2017