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What's best for wounded wildlife?

News release
24 March 2015

One of Kangaroo Island’s main attractions is the opportunity to encounter native animals in their natural environment. However, the abundance of wildlife means that it is not uncommon to find an animal that is injured or sick. Often people feel that they should do something to help, but don’t know what is the best thing to do.

It is important in all cases to consider what is best for the animal. Generally, people should not intervene when wildlife is in a poor condition resulting from natural causes. An animal that appears to be sick or injured is often best left alone. Wild animals can carry diseases and can be very dangerous when they feel they are being threatened by humans. In some cases an animal may be resting, seeking shelter from the elements or temporarily dazed. The stress of a ‘rescue’ can sometimes be worse for the animal than the problem itself.

As with people, wild animals die of natural causes. The animal may be old and nature should be left to take its course. Animals that pass away become an important food source for other animals and also return nutrients to the environment.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (Natural Resources KI) is responsible under the National Parks & Wildlife Act 1972 for regulating the management of wildlife. However, this does not include rescuing or treating wildlife that is sick, injured or at risk. Staff may intervene, (where practicable and subject to available resources) if the native animal is on a public land reserve and there is a management responsibility to do so, if it is a species of conservation significance, or if it poses a risk to public safety.

If the situation meets the circumstances described above, record the exact location and details and report it to the natural resources centre during office hours or for after-hours incidents contact the Duty Officer (0477 334 898).

If you encounter a native animal that has serious injuries do not attempt to handle it yourself. Animals that have broken bones or serious injuries will often need to be humanely destroyed by a vet or a Natural Resources KI officer.

So if you find an injured native animal, or you accidently injure one and are unable to deal with the situation yourself, contact us. Staff will assist by assessing the incident and may call on the assistance of the newly formed Kangaroo Island Wildlife Network. Where possible, Natural Resources KI will provide advice, and try to respond.

You can find out more information about living with wildlife on Kangaroo Island or by visiting our display (until 27 April) in the foyer of the natural resources centre.