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RSPCA Policy E03 Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals

3.1RSPCA Australia believes that humans have a responsibility to assist, wherever possible, where individual wild animals are found to be suffering as a direct consequence of human activities, interference (such as land clearing, urban development or environmental accidents) or as a result of a natural disaster (such as flood, bushfire or severe drought).
3.2Wild animals found to be sick, injured or orphaned and taken into care must be promptly assessed by an experienced person, preferably a veterinarian with specialised knowledge and experience in the species. Where the animal is suffering from pain or distress which cannot be relieved or treated, it must be promptly and humanely killed.
3.3Where rehabilitation and successful release is unlikely, or where pest animal legislation prevents the release of an introduced species, the animal should be promptly and humanely killed. Exceptions to this should only occur for valid conservation reasons and where it is established that the quality of life of the individual animal in captivity can be assured (see also E4.3).
3.4Where there is a reasonable expectation that the animal can be successfully rehabilitated and released, it must be placed in the care of a person or rescue facility that has been recognised by the relevant government authority as being proficient in wild animal care and rehabilitation (see E3.7).

Wild animals should only be released where there is a high probability of long-term survival of the animal. Indicators of this include:

  • the animal is fully recovered and capable of existence without human intervention
  • the area proposed for release is as close as possible to where the animal was found
  • the area proposed for release has adequate habitat, is subject to effective control of introduced predators and is known to sustain the species naturally
  • release will not place existing populations at unreasonable risk (e.g. due to artificially increased levels of competition, disease, predation or genetic effects).
3.6Wherever possible, animals should be individually identified in an appropriate and humane manner prior to their release and monitored to determine their subsequent welfare and survival. This information should be used to inform future release activities.
3.7RSPCA Australia advocates government regulation of wild animal carers through a compulsory licensing and training system and the development of national standards for the rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals.
3.8Road accidents
3.8.1RSPCA Australia supports the implementation of strategies which are effective in reducing the risk of road accidents involving wild animals, including the use of speed restrictions, warning signs, bridges, tunnels and fencing.
3.8.2Drivers of vehicles involved in accidents with wild animals have a responsibility to ensure that any injured animal is given appropriate, timely and humane treatment.

(adopted 06/12/10)

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Updated on December 9, 2020

RSPCA policies reflect the best available evidence to direct and guide RSPCA and others, to promote and achieve good animal welfare outcomes.

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