Code of Practice

Rescue and handling | back

  1. Rescue and handling
    1. Objective
      1. To eliminate additional stress and further injury to wildlife during rescue and in care and to maximise the safety of rescuers and the general public.
    2. Guidelines
      1. A wildlife rehabilitator should not conduct a rescue when doing so would put themselves or other persons at risk of serious injury.
      2. Wildlife rehabilitators should ensure that they utilise correct personal protective equipment (PPE) relevant to the species that they are rescuing.

        For example: eye protection when handling waterbirds, gloves when handling bats, towels/blankets for handling most species, and covered footwear should be worn at all times. For rescues in bushland or long grass, rescuers should also wear long sleeved shirts and long trousers.
      3. Prior to undertaking a wildlife rescue the rescuer should assess the associated risks and put in place measures to ensure the safety of themselves, others and the wildlife to be rescued.
      4. Wildlife rescues should be carried out in a way that avoids significant disturbance to unaffected wildlife that is likely to cause injury or abandonment of young.
      5. The rescue and handling of wildlife should avoid causing unnecessary pain, suffering or exacerbation of injuries.
      6. The rescue and handling of wildlife should be done in a manner that will not cause or spread disease.
      7. Only the appropriate equipment and techniques for the species and size of the animal concerned should be used. Equipment and techniques that should not be used include:
        1. the noosing of a koala
        2. the use of a projectile, other than a net-gun or tranquiliser dart by an appropriately trained and licensed person
        3. the use of unpadded snake tongs
        4. the use of a leg-hold trap with unpadded jaws or an unattended snare or automatically activated snare
        5. the felling of a tree containing an animal, when the tree has a diameter at chest height (DBH) exceeding 5 centimetres (cm), or when injury to the animal being rescued or any other animal is a likely consequence, or when the tree is in a protected area.
      8. Where the difficulty of a wildlife rescue is compounded by the presence of other persons or dangers such as heavy traffic, a rescuer should opt for the assistance of local authorities (i.e. local council or police) to mitigate these factors.
      9. Where the rescue of animals in warm or hot ambient conditions (>24°C) cannot be avoided, or when the animal has been subject to exertion or physical restraint, rescuers should monitor the body temperature of the animal and/or seek appropriate veterinary assistance.
      10. Rescuers should monitor healthy nestling and fledgling birds for abandonment rather than attempt to bring the bird into care. Nestlings can be returned to the nest or placed in an artificial nest. Fledglings can be returned to a tree where they were found or in some cases a tree nearby, if determined to be free of injuries or disease by a suitably qualified or experienced person.
      11. Where possible, handling and restraint should be minimised and chemical restraint methods such as sedation and anaesthesia used whenever possible by those appropriately qualified and/or licensed to do so.

        Note: Sedatives and anaesthetics must be administered by a veterinary surgeon or authorised person.
      12. The use of padded snake tongs should be limited to situations in which there is no other alternative, and in which there is significant risk to human life. Snake tongs, even when padded, may cause significant internal injury, particularly to gravid (pregnant) snakes. Such injuries may not be immediately apparent and may result in the death of the snake weeks or months later.
      13. Only persons who are vaccinated against rabies should handle any bat species.

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