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Dealing with Wildlife Emergencies

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by Suze C (subscribe)
"I'm a writer living in the Perth Hills with my relentlessly fun seeking children.
Published February 25th 2017
Upping the odds of survival
Australia has some pretty amazing wildlife, whilst North and South America can boast the odd opossum, nothing compares to the vast diversity of marsupials we have here. Our native animals are special and beautiful and that is why it's important to protect them.

Boobook Owl (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
Boobook Owl (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

Act Quickly
Many thousands of native animals are rescued by wildlife volunteers every year, but many more lives could be saved with a small amount of effort on our part. The success of an injured animal surviving is often not only down to how quickly we act, but just responding in the right way. I'm going to focus mainly on animals injured on our roads, because this is commonly a place where you may come across a wildlife emergency.

Echidna (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
Echidna (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

Be Prepared
I have been in the unlucky position of trying to rescue an injured Galah whilst in the middle of a busy road. Running after a bird who was seriously intent on removing several of my fingers, whilst in imminent danger of being flattened by passing road trucks is not fun. I can tell you that actually being even a little prepared is going to save you a lot of stress when it happens to you.

This lucky Kookaburra escaped with only a headache (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
This lucky Kookaburra escaped with only a headache (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

Basic Kit
You don't need to carry a lot in your car to deal with an animal that has been involved in a road traffic accident. If you have a cardboard box you can fold down flat, to stow under a seat, a blanket, hand sanitizer, two pairs of gloves (heavy duty and latex) and a sharp knife, you have got the basics. The first thing you should do is write the number of the Wildcare Helpline in permanent marker on the outside of your box or add it to your contacts. All you are really doing is providing some way to transport an animal to someone who can care for it properly, as safely as you can. What you do as a first response might be the difference between life or death.

Tawny Frogmouths (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre) (
Tawny Frogmouths (pic Kanyana WIldlife Rehabilitation Centre)

What to do
Kanyana Wildlife Centre have a very handy glove box guide that can be printed out from their website which covers the do's and don'ts of every animal you might come across in detail, but as a general idiots guide, keep things quiet, dark and as unstressful as possible and don't worry about providing food or drink, animals that have been hit on the road will be in shock, you just need a safe, secure space to prevent further injury and transport it easily.

Keep a Cardboard Box in your car (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
Keep a Cardboard Box in your car (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

Stop for Wildlife
The most important thing you can do if you see an animal injured, is just stop to check if it's alive, but only if you can do so safely, without endangering yourself or others.

Which brings me to the nasty stuff. Checking the pouch of a dead kangaroo sucks. There's no other way to put it, but better a couple of minutes of unpleasantness for you, than a joey baking and starving to death at the side of the road for several hours.

Joey found in a pouch (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)
Joey found in a pouch (pic Kanyana Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre)

Although many people view kangaroos as a pest, they are still part of our native fauna and many orphaned joeys get rescued every year in just this way.

Orphaned kangaroo
Orphaned kangaroo

As the urban sprawl spreads into previously more rural areas, more wildlife is coming into contact with and falling foul of traffic on the roads, as we encroach further into their wild spaces and habitats, we should feel a responsibility to a least help out where we can. If we do stop our cars, rather than just drive past, we can at least give our wildlife a sporting chance.
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Why? To help wildlife in emergencies
When: Anytime
Phone: 08 9291 3900
Where: Anywhere
Cost: Free
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