by Bronwyn Orr veterinarian and PhD candidate.
1. Call your local wildlife care group for advice
Some animals aren’t actually injured, such as fledgling birds which are learning to fly, and others (such as goannas) can be dangerous, so be sure to seek advice before approaching wildlife. If you don’t know who your local wildlife care group is, type into a search engine “wildlife carer” to locate one near you.
2. Keep yourself safe
Armed with advice from a wildlife carer, ensure you don’t put yourself in a risky situation to rescue wildlife. Take care around busy roads, use a barrier between yourself and the injured animal (such as a towel or welding gloves) and avoid the bitey end! Wildlife are inherently fearful of people, which means they might attack if scared.
3. Secure the injured animal before transport
You don’t want an injured animal to escape in your car on the way to the vet. If the injured animal is a bird, small reptile or baby marsupial, a cardboard box with air holes and lined with a towel makes a good transport container. Don’t offer wildlife food, as they have very special diets and digestive systems.
4. Give as much information as possible
When you get to the vet, ensure you provide detailed information on where you found the animal. If the animal is healthy enough to enter wildlife rehabilitation, the wildlife carers will need to release the animal as close as possible to the location where it was found. This is because many animals, such as possums, are fiercely territorial and often die if relocated outside their territory.
Ultimately, many injured wild animals cannot be saved and will be euthanased after being dropped off at a veterinary clinic. This is not a bad outcome. Wildlife aren’t pets — they need to be fit to survive if they are ever going to have a chance in the wild. Injuries such as a badly broken wing or the loss of an eye would condemn wildlife upon release to starvation or predation.
It is much kinder to humanely euthanase injured wildlife which have no chance of survival rather than let them suffer a prolonged death in the wild. Even if the animal you drop off at the vet is ultimately euthanased, you have still saved it from prolonged suffering.
Bronwyn Orr is a veterinarian and PhD candidate, University of Sydney. This article originally appeared on The Conversation.