Code of Practice

Release timing and site selection | back

  1. Release timing and site selection
    1. Objective
      1. To ensure that the release timing and site chosen for rehabilitated wildlife maximises the chances of survival in the wild and has minimal negative impact on wild populations.
    2. Standards
      1. Wildlife must not be released in weather conditions that are likely to cause significant hardship or reduced chances of survival.
      2. To allow wildlife to immediately investigate its environment and avoid predation, release must take place during the species’ normal period of activity (e.g. diurnal, nocturnal, crepuscular).
      3. Migratory species must be released one month prior to their typical departure period or at a time when other members of the species are present if the location is within a migratory path. Due to time in care, the animal may need to be kept in care until the following migratory season.
      4. If the location where the wildlife was found is known and is suitable for the release then the wildlife must be released there. A suitable environment for release is one that:
        1. contains appropriate habitat, shelter, water and food resources
        2. is free of immediate hazards or risks (i.e. not a roadside)
        3. is known not to be subject to imminent land-clearing or development.
      5. The release of koalas to the wild must be conducted in accordance with the relevant provisions outlined in the Nature Conservation (Koala) Conservation Plan 2006.
      6. If the original site of capture is not appropriate for release (refer to section 15.2.4), then the animal must be released as close to the original site as possible. The rehabilitator needs to be aware of that particular species natural home range in order to provide the best alternative release location.
      7. Wildlife must not be released into a national park unless the animal originated from the national park and prior approval has been obtained from EHP.
      8. If a release is unsuccessful, despite repeated attempts to rehabilitate the animal for release to the wild, the animal must be euthanased (see section 12). If the animal is potentially suitable to enter into QSMP, the local EHP office must be contacted to arrange for the animal to be assessed.
      9. Progeny of wildlife held on a rehabilitation permit must be released to the wild when self-sufficient. The progeny should be released at the location from where the mother originated, consistent with section 15.2.4 of the code.
      10. Tagging, banding, or other marking, including microchip or PIT implanting, may only be performed by a person who is authorised by EHP to tag wildlife or by a registered veterinary surgeon, and must only be performed as part of an EHP approved program.
    3. Guidelines
      1. An animal should be released as soon as it is deemed ready and the conditions are suitable.
      2. Environmental conditions should be suitable for the release, taking into account the weather and time of year which will help facilitate the animal’s reintroduction to the wild and its survival. For example:
        1. reptiles should be released during the warmer months such as spring and summer
        2. juvenile animals should be released during natural dispersal periods
        3. insectivorous species should be released during periods of insect abundance.
      3. The release of rehabilitated animals into habitat other than that from which they originated, should be carefully considered as it increases the risk of undesirable ecological impacts, such as:
        1. spread of diseases and parasites into native wildlife populations
        2. genetic contamination of genetically distinct wildlife populations, or other deleterious genetic effects
        3. impacts on stable social structures of wildlife populations residing in recipient habitat.
      4. Gradual or ‘soft’ release is preferred for most species whenever practicable. Abrupt or ‘hard’ release is not advised for animals subject to long term care, orphans or those animals requiring social groups.
      5. If social species are to be managed and released as a group, then all individuals within the group should originate from the same or neighbouring location, or be within the range of normal movement from their place of origin based on the species capacity to travel.
        Example: A kangaroo can be released within 100 kilometres of its origin, based on its (the species) capacity to travel long distances.
      6. Regarding migratory species that have been in care for extended periods, the rehabilitator should ensure that an appropriate level of physical fitness is achieved prior to release, allowing the animal enough time to establish itself in the wild in advance of the forthcoming migration.
      7. Inexperienced rehabilitators should contact an experienced rehabilitator, rehabilitation group or EHP for advice on ‘soft’ release of animals with a close social structure such as bats (including flying-foxes), gliders and macropods.
      8. Highly social species, excepting those individuals in critical care, should be held in appropriate groups as early as possible to enable a social unit to develop before release.

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