Handling sick or injured Wildlife

IMG_1882At the clinic we often experience busy days with wildlife. Most recently, one injured Galah with a broken wing, two turtles with broken shells and an injured echidna.
During spring, we often see injured wildlife being brought into the clinic.  But unfortunately, often the discovery of injured wildlife by a well meaning member of the public can mean a death sentence for an innocent native animal.
We are so accustomed to helping out members of the domestic animal population and often it is tempting to treat injured wildlife in the same way. However, there is a very different ways to care for them which can make the difference between them surviving or not.

Here are some clues of what, and what not, to do:

1. Finding a bird:
If the bird is hurt or sick (unable to flutter wings; bleeding, wings drooping unevenly; weak or shivering; maybe attacked by cat/dog?) then you must ring a WIRES carer and follow their instructions or take it to your nearest vet, but you must note down exactly where you found it, so that it can later be released to that area. Otherwise it will not survive if not released to the same area due to territorialism.

If it’s not feathered, please look around to find a nest to put it back into. If it’s a fledgling (normal looking bird that’s feathered with no apparent injuries, only able to hop and flutter wings) then please either look for a nest or put it on a tree limb. You must leave it in the area for its mother to be able to find it, to allow it any chance of survival. If these young birds are taken out of their area, they will not survive.

Do not handle the birds more than is necessary. Place them into a cardboard box. Line the floor with newspaper. Keep warm and away from noise and vibration. Call WIRES so that the bird can be handed over to a trained wildlife carer as soon as is possible. Please note that some birds, especially parrots, can carry disease that can be contagious to humans and in some cases can be life threatening (psittacosis).

2. Finding a marsupial or mammal:
Native animals can be very dangerous when placed under threat or if they are injured. Incorrect handling can result in the handler being bitten or kicked and the animal being stressed or suffering broken limbs or back & neck injuries. Covering an animal with a blanket or confining it in a bag will reduce stress to the animal and facilitate its examination.
Marsupial carers (WIRES) or the rangers should be called out to capture and treat an injured animal.  However on absolutely no account should an inexperienced carer ever attempt to handle a large wild kangaroo.
As with birds, if you find injured wildlife, you must note down exactly where you found them, as unless they can be released to their own area, they are unlikely to survive.

Never handle snakes (a strike could be deadly) or bats (who carry a deadly disease to humans).

Please note that it is against the law to keep wild animals/birds if you don’t have permits, even if you plan to release them.

Wildlife kept in captivity is not in the best interest of the animal. If they cannot be rehabilitated within 6 weeks or their injuries are so severe that they are not able to be rehabilitated, or if the location where it was found is unknown, euthanasia is unfortunately the kinder option. Of course please contact WIRES or
the clinic if in doubt on how to handle a wildlife situation.