Updated: Sep 4, 2022
Are you keen to help sick, injured or orphaned wildlife in Tasmania, but unsure how to go about it? Keep reading to learn what to do in a wildlife emergency and to find out how to navigate wildlife rescue and care systems in place in Tasmania...
1. Your safety comes first!
Assess the situation and only ever approach sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife if it is safe to do so. Some species should not be handled by members of the public, in Tasmania, these species are:
Birds of Prey
If you find these species do not approach or attempt to interact with them.
For bats, snakes and birds of prey, we recommend that you phone Bonorong on 0447264625 straight away and remain onsite to observe the animal if it is safe to do so until a trained rescuer arrives.
Who Are Bonorong?
Bonorong are a privately run and owned wildlife sanctuary located in Brighton, Tasmania. They run a dedicated 24/7 wildlife rescue service and have hundreds of trained wildlife rescuers state wide who are signed up and ready to jump into a rescue at any given time.
Bonorong is also open to the public, and is a great place to go to have a wildlife experience or for hands on education.
How It Works:
When you ring the Bonorong helpline to help out with a rescue, they will take down the details of the rescue and put a message up on a specifically designed app that all rescue volunteers are signed up to.
If a rescuer see's the message and is able to conduct the rescue, they can accept the rescue through the app and proceed to attend that job.
Sometimes it can take a while for a rescuer to accept a rescue job, however most rescues will eventually get accepted, it's just a matter of patience (remember, all rescuers and carers are un-paid volunteers).
After the rescuer has completed the rescue, they will contact the Bonorong call centre for advice on how to proceed. Often orphaned joeys will be placed straight into the care of a registered wildlife carer (like us) for rehabilitation. If animals are injured, they will be taken to a local vet and assessed and treated before going into care. Sometimes animals are unable to be saved, and euthanasia is the kindest option.
2. Animal safety
If possible, remove any dangers or threats to the animal's welfare. This will minimise stress and potentially lead to better outcomes for the animal. Make sure that pets and other people, including children kept are away from the animal.
3. Containing the animal
If the animal is safe to contain, do so gently. Injured and orphaned animals will be stressed and often in a lot of pain. Your aim is to minimise their stress and pain, and avoid further injury during the containment of the animal. Sometimes it's best to call for help. If you don't feel confident about containing an animal it's best to call Bonorong. They will send out a trained wildlife rescuer to contain the animal. Containing Birds:
Often birds are found on the ground and unable to fly. Place a towel over the bird then gently scoop it up and place it in a well ventilated cardboard box with a secure lid. Place the box in a quiet warm location until help arrives. If you are uncomfortable about touching or picking up the bird, a washing basket can be placed over the bird until help arrives..
Containing Adult Mammals
Adult mammals can be a lot harder to contain than juvenile or baby mammals. Each case is unique, however we strongly recommend that you contact a local wildlife service (such as us) or Bonorong for advice before you proceed with containment.
Always wear proper PPE (Thick leather gloves and long sleeve jacket) before handling possums, as their claws can be very sharp and dangerous.
We have a post with an instructional video on how to check a pouch and safely remove a joey right here
Once contained, all sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife should be kept in a warm, dark, quiet and secure place until further help arrives.
4. Seek professional help
Once you've completed the above steps, it's time to get more experienced help for the animal. Things you can do now are:
Call Bonorong wildlife rescue on 0447264625 - They will organise a trained wildlife rescuer to attend your location and pick up the animal for further assessment and treatment.
Take the animal to your nearest vet - Vet's in Tasmania always accept sick, injured, and orphaned wildlife. This will not cost you anything.
Call a local wildlife rehabilitation or rescue centre or trained carer: various centres and individual carers operate throughout the state and are usually happy to help out when they can. Not all centres/ individuals have the capacity to rescue or take on injured and orphaned wildlife all the time, and may direct you elsewhere.
Things to remember
Write down the location and time the animal was found along with any other important details. Pass this along with the animal when it is handed to a vet, carer or rescuer. Most animals need to be released back to exactly where they were found and this information can be invaluable.
Do not give the animal anything to eat or drink unless advised to do so by a vet or trained professional.
Do not attempt to interact with sick, injured, or orphaned wildlife or take photos for social media, this is disrespectful and can be very stressful for the animal - stress can cause death.
For all wildlife related emergencies call Bonorong: 0447 264 625