Injured wildlife

Have you found an injured native animal?

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI) 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. Generally, people should not intervene when wildlife is in a poor condition resulting from natural ecological processes.

NRKI staff may intervene, however 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
  • is a species of conservation significance
  • poses a risk to public safety.

If you encounter a native animal that has serious injuries do not attempt to handle it yourself. If the animal meets the circumstances described above, record the exact location and details and report it to the Kangaroo Island Natural Resources Centre during office hours on (08) 8553 4444, or for after hours incidents contact the Duty Officer (0477 334 898). When making a report, please clearly state: 

  • your name
  • your phone number
  • the type of animal
  • the nature of the injury or problem
  • exact directions to the animal’s location
  • whether the animal is mobile.

Consider what's best for the animal

Wild animals that appear to be sick or injured are often best left alone. Wild animals can carry diseases and 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’ on a wild animal can sometimes be worse for the animal than the problem itself. 
As with people, wild animals die of natural causes. The animal you find may be old and, in this case, 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.
Animals that have broken bones or serious injuries will often need to be humanely destroyed by a vet or a NRKI officer.

Some animals should not be rescued

Animals should not be rescued in the following situations:

  • healthy animals (eg koala in a tree)
  • healthy juvenile animals (eg fledgling birds or hatchling reptiles)
  • nectar feeders which get 'drunk' from eating nectar at certain times of the year
  • animals whose injuries are unlikely to compromise their ability to survive in the wild (eg a lizard with the tail tip missing)
  • if the rescue is dangerous and puts human life at risk (eg koala on a busy highway or an injured, venomous snake).

Caring for native wildlife

Due to the specialist needs of native animals, only experienced carers are allowed to rescue native wildlife and permits are required for rescuing and keeping most species. There are also strict restrictions and guidelines in place for caring for rare and endangered  species or wildlife with specialist requirements.
NRKI recognises that the work of wildlife rehabilitators contributes to conservation through research, community education and promotion of a respect for native wildlife. However, rehabilitation has limited benefit for biodiversity conservation as the majority of animals rescued are common species.
NRKI does not fund wildlife rescue organisations or individual carers who voluntarily undertake native animal rescues.
The Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources has more information about injured wildlife and wildlife permit applications.

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