Code of Practice

Principles underpinning this code | back

  1. Principles underpinning this code
    1. The fundamental principles underpinning this code that should guide wildlife rehabilitators at all times in the conduct of their activities are:
      1. Duty of care: under section 17 of the Animal Care and Protection Act 2001, a person in charge of an animal during its rescue, care, rehabilitation or release has a statutory duty of care to appropriately provide for the animal’s welfare.
      2. Avoid harm: in rescuing, caring for, and returning native animals to the wild, there is a risk of adverse animal welfare and ecological outcomes. Even well intentioned care or treatments may prolong or worsen an animal’s suffering, and inappropriate release of animals may have significant detrimental effects on local ecosystems and wildlife communities. At all stages of the rehabilitation process the potential for adverse animal welfare and ecological outcomes must be considered and avoided.
      3. Avoid risks to human health and safety: in rescuing, caring for, and returning native animals to the wild, there are generic, situation-specific and species-specific risks to persons involved that must be considered and minimised.

        Note: Anyone involved in the rescue, care and handling of wildlife should contact their general practitioner or local immunisation provider for more information on appropriate disease prevention measures including any recommended or required vaccinations.
      4. Relieve suffering: a main objective of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation is to relieve suffering in sick, injured or orphaned wildlife; it is not to protect and preserve life at all costs. In this way, the objectives of wildlife rehabilitation are fundamentally different from those of human medicine. The rehabilitation and release of wildlife to the wild is the primary objective, but it must not be pursued to preserve the life of an animal at all costs or to achieve broader conservation outcomes where the animal is subject to unjustifiable and unreasonable suffering.
      5. Fair, reasonable and appropriate measures: in deciding what is fair, reasonable and appropriate, regard must be had to:
        • the environment and circumstances of the animal
        • the steps a reasonable person would reasonably be expected to have taken under the circumstances.
    2. These fundamental and guiding principles should be applied to all aspects of the rescue, care, rehabilitation and release of rescued animals, and appropriate application of these principles will assist wildlife rehabilitators and organisations in complying with the code.

View the Code of Practice as a single document (PDF, 245KB)