Australian Mammalogy Australian Mammalogy Society
Journal of the Australian Mammal Society
RESEARCH ARTICLE

A survey of current rehabilitation practices for native mammals in eastern Australia

Amanda J. Guy A C and Peter Banks B
+ Author Affliations
- Author Affliations

A School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Sciences, University of New South Wales, Sydney, NSW 2052, Australia.

B School of Biological Sciences, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW 2006, Australia.

C Corresponding author. Email: amanda.guy@hotmail.com.

Australian Mammalogy 34(1) 108-118 https://doi.org/10.1071/AM10046
Submitted: 25 November 2010  Accepted: 22 September 2011   Published: 5 December 2011

Abstract

Wildlife rehabilitation is common in Australia, with more than 30 mainly volunteer wildlife networks caring for thousands of animals annually. Here we report on a survey of 140 Australian wildlife rehabilitators that asked questions about their motivations, their methods of rehabilitation and their methods for release and post-release assessments. Most rehabilitators were motivated by animal welfare concerns and most animals coming into care were injured or orphaned wildlife. Most rehabilitators recorded each animal’s history, conducted a medical examination and briefly quarantined new arrivals; few conducted pre-release medical testing. Animal behaviour before release was a significant concern and >50% of respondents stated that animals exhibiting stereotypic behaviours were still released. However, there were no consistent criteria for the suitability of an animal for release, its release site, or which soft-release method to use. Fewer than 60% of respondents carried out post-release monitoring, which was typically <1 month, and only 40% could identify factors that contribute to release success. Predation hampers most reintroductions and is likely to reduce survival of rehabilitated wildlife, highlighting the need for strategies to reduce predation risk; 20% of respondents carried out antipredator training, though most in an unstructured way. The ability to carry out animal training, and monitor success was perceived to be limited by poor funding, poor access to monitoring equipment, little government support and time constraints. Researchers are encouraged to collaborate with wildlife volunteer networks in order to improve this potentially valuable conservation approach.

Additional keywords: conservation, reintroduction, wildlife.


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