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  4. RSPCA Policy E3 Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals

RSPCA Policy E3 Rescue and rehabilitation of wild animals

3.1The RSPCA believes that humans have a moral responsibility to seek assistance, wherever possible, for individual wild animals who are found suffering for any reasons.
3.2Advice should be sought from a veterinarian where wild animals are found to be demonstrably sick/injured. Prior to removing an apparently orphaned animal (e.g. joey or fledgling bird) advice should be sought from a veterinarian or reputable wildlife rescue organisation.
3.3Where rehabilitation and successful release are unlikely, and ongoing captivity would compromise welfare, the animal should be humanely killed as soon as possible by an appropriately skilled person, a veterinarian or under veterinary advice. 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. Where legislation prevents the release of a wild animal, then action should be taken to protect the welfare of that animal, which may include humane killing.
3.4Where there is a reasonable expectation that the native animal can be successfully rehabilitated and released, the animal 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 native animal care and rehabilitation for that species (see E3.8).
3.5Animal carers must have provisions in place to ensure the welfare of native animals in their care including plans for continuity of care should capacity decline (e.g. in case of illness).
3.6Rehabilitated native animals should only be released where, on expert advice, 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, is considered safe from human activities (e.g. shooting) 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).
3.7Wherever 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.
3.8The RSPCA advocates for government regulation of wild animal carers through a mandatory licensing and training system and the development of national standards for the rescue and rehabilitation of native animals.
3.9Road accidents
3.9.1The RSPCA supports the implementation of humane strategies which are effective in reducing the risk of road accidents involving wild animals, including the use of speed restrictions, warning signs, appropriate animal crossing points (e.g. bridges, tunnels, overhead passageways) and appropriate fencing.
3.9.2The driver of a vehicle involved in an accident with a wild animal has a moral responsibility, to take reasonable steps to obtain appropriate, timely and humane care for the animal (e.g. seek advice from a veterinarian or wildlife rescue organisation).

(adopted 08/04/2024)

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Updated on April 24, 2024

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

Reference to ‘the RSPCA’ or ‘RSPCA’ in this document means RSPCA Australia and each of the RSPCA Australia member Societies.

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