Spring 2003
Knowing When To Intervene



Patti Johnson

In any given year, Victoria's Wildlife Shelters receive thousands of calls. Especially during Spring and Summer months, most shelters are inundated with orphaned birds and animals.     Unfortunately, many of these - particularly young magpies and wild ducklings - are rescued by well meaning people unnecessarily.

Some basic guidelines designed to assist in determining if an animal or bird is in need of help are as follows:-

Unless the animal is obviously injured or in immediate danger (i.e. cars, cats, or dogs), take some time to observe.    Is it acting normally?    Are the parents nearby?   Often, newly fledged magpies, known as "Branchers" in some parts of the country, are left in a given area to explore while the parents gather food.     While they may appear to be abandoned, Mum or Dad is usually not far away and probably watching you.    Native ducks with ducklings often stop to rest in backyard pools and only need for you to ensure they are not disturbed or frightened until they decide to move on. Provision of a ramp (such as a kickboard) or other means for the ducklings to enter or exit the pool are very helpful.

However, there are other situations when a quick response can save a life. For example - baby birds that are not fully feathered or are unable to fly should not be on the ground.     A possum on the ground during daylight hours is almost always in trouble as well as any other marsupial that is obviously too young to be separated from its Mum.     These creatures should be placed in a dark box, kept warm and quiet and your local rescue organisation, wildlife shelter or wildlife authority contacted.

If you are unsure whether to intervene, or would like more information on ways to help out, if you are in the Australia state of Victoria, you can call the Wildline on 0500 540 000 - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week or if you are in the vicinity of the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria you can call the Killara Wildlife Rescue and Shelter on (03) 5983 8291, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Remember, your safety is always paramount.     If you are not confident that you can rescue the animal without putting yourself in harm's way, contact either Killara or the Wildline and a trained rescuer will be dispatched to assist you, and remember – these creatures don’t live in our backyard, we live in theirs!

Bennett's Wallaby
Juvenile NT Brushtail Possum
Swamp Wallaby
Golden Brushtail Possum
Red Kangaroos
Yellow-footed Rock-wallabies
Baby Squirrel Glider
Sugar Glider

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