In my editorial I
touched on the fact that in the last issue of
‘Keeping Marsupials’ I got a bit hot under the
collar about the unnecessary euthanasing of
wildlife. In this issue I have attempted to
introduce some cold facts into the argument
which may help to throw some light on why we, in
South Australia, are not allowed to release any
‘humanised’ wildlife. It also demonstrates
that our government has some compassion and
foresight in allowing us, the general public, to
keep native creatures of many kinds, albeit
under strict guidelines. I am probably biased,
but from my viewpoint I believe on the whole,
our system works very well. This article is
the Department of Environment and Heritage’s,
Standard Operating Procedures. My original
thought was to extract the more interesting
aspects of this document and compare them to
other laws around the country but I felt it
better to present it in its entirety then, at
least, I can not be accused of taking paragraphs
out of context. Even though this paper may
appear as ‘dry’ reading, it is in fact just the
contrary; it makes very interesting reading and
sets out very clearly the rules and
responsibilities we, as native animal carers,
must follow. I would strongly recommend it to
all native animal carers regardless of where you
- RESCUE AND
the rescue, care and
rehabilitation of sick, injured or orphaned
animals and the release
or retention in captivity of those animals.
administrating agency is the Department for
Environment and Heritage (DEH).
a consistent State wide application relating to
that the provisions of the National Parks and
Wildlife Act 1972 (hereinafter referred to
as “the Act”) and the Prevention of Cruelty
to Animals Act 1985 relating to a rescued
animal are communicated to and understood by
is defined as the act of assisting a
perceived to require immediate help.
Rescues apply to
the following situations:-
animals (e.g. loss of sight, unable to
run/climb, unable to feed).
suffering obvious injuries including animals
injured by vehicle or window strikes.
dependent young animals.
escapees that have no apparent chance of feeding
impacted by natural disasters e.g. wildfire, oil
or chemical spills, pollutants, poisons, etc.
animals (either escaped or released).
in imminent danger e.g. located on a busy
should be properly assessed prior to any
A person finding
a non endemic, healthy animal e.g. Queensland
Carpet Python found in metropolitan Adelaide,
should contact DEH
not be rescued in the following situations:-
animals (e.g. koala in tree).
juvenile animals e.g. “L-Plate” birds or
feeders which get “drunk” from eating nectar at
certain times of the year.
the rescue is
dangerous and puts human life at risk e.g. koala
on a busy highway, injured venomous snake.
In most cases,
the rescue of a
native animal has
little direct conservation value. This may not
be the case for an endangered, vulnerable or
rare animal. Participation of the public in
rearing rescued animals may indirectly
contribute to greater community knowledge of
addition, where appropriate the display of a
animal unable to be returned to the wild has an
important role in public education.
There is no
conservation value in releasing a common animal
back to the wild, particularly if it is
behaviourally, physically or otherwise impaired.
The welfare of an
individual animal and the preservation of an
individual animal’s life are intrinsically
DEH does not become
involved in rescuing native
animals. DEH does
not fund animal rescue
organisations or individual carers who
voluntarily undertake this task.
officers may receive requests from the public
regarding seriously injured kangaroos or possums
on roadsides. These requests are referred to the
appropriate animal rescue
group or the RSPCA, who may be able to have the
animal humanely euthanased.
There are a
number of volunteer organisations and
individuals in South Australia who care for
rescued animals. Their responsibilities are to:
an early assessment of a rescued animal;
appropriate care for the animal; and
prepare an animal for survival in the wild if
the animal is to be released.
provides a referral service by acting as a
receiving point for public inquiries regarding
the collection and care of injured or orphaned
wildlife and directs callers to the nearest
defined as placing a rescued animal into care,
either on a short term or long term basis.
intending to care for a rescued animal should
only do so if the carer has adequate time,
appropriate facilities, appropriate skills and
sufficient knowledge of
species concerned (including
compatibility both with conspecifics and other
species). A carer
must be able to ensure that the necessary
hygiene, safety and welfare standards can be
met. A carer must ensure that appropriate
treatment for an animal’s injuries, disease or
illness is sought and can be carried out.
If a person does
not have the skills or knowledge to care for a
rescued animal, that person can care for the
animal under the supervision of an experienced
carer (or mentor).
and competent person should properly assess all
animals prior to holding.
Where a person is
incapable of providing for the needs of an
animal they should transfer the rescued animal
to another carer forthwith.
A person should
not hold a rescued animal if:-
person is inexperienced and unsupervised.
person has inadequate facilities.
person cannot afford to provide the animal with
food, treatment, housing etc.
person has insufficient time to care for the
animal is difficult to keep without specialist
skills (e.g. echidnas).
animal is a marine mammal (RSPCA excepted).
are to be consigned to Cleland Wildlife Park
animal was in imminent danger of being run over
e.g. reptiles on roads. If possible and safe to
do so, these animals may be removed from the
danger site and relocated to a nearby location
forthwith. In general, it is not necessary to
take the animal into captivity.
An animal that is
intended for eventual or immediate
release should not
be placed on public display.
rescuing a protected animal requires a
issued under the provision of Section 53(1)(d)
of the Act.
The Act defines a
protected animal as: -
mammal, bird or reptile indigenous to Australia;
migratory mammal, bird or reptile that
periodically or occasionally migrates to, and
lives in, Australia; or
animal of a species
referred to in schedule 7, 8 or 9 of the Act; or
animal of a species
declared by regulation to be a
species of protected
starling, European blackbird, fox, rabbit,
domestic pigeon, domestic cat and domestic dog)
or an unprotected native
animal referred to in schedule 10 of the Act
(or any animals declared by regulation to be
unprotected) does not require a
rescue permit issued
under the provisions of the Act.
This includes Zebra Finch (Poephila guttata),
Budgerygah (Melopsittacus undulatus),
Red Wattlebird (Anthochaera carunculata),
Grey-backed Silvereye (Zosterops lateralis
halmaturina), Galah (Cacatua roseicapilla),
Little Corella (Cacatua sanguinea),
Australian Raven (Corvus coronoides),
Little Crow (Corvus bennetti), Australian
Crow (Corvus orru cecilae), Little Raven
(Corvus mellori) and Wild Dog (Dingo)
permits may be issued to an individual but not
to a rescue group or
organisation. Applicants for a
rescue permit must
reside in South Australia.
If the rescued
animal is not to be returned to the wild the
carer should apply for a permit as soon as
possible after rescuing the animal.
A number of
rescues involve providing an animal with short
term respite and then releasing the animal back
to the wild. Due to the rapid turnaround of
these rescues, it is unreasonable to require
carers to apply for a
rescue permit in these instances.
will not undertake any legal action against a
person who rescues an animal from the wild,
returns the animal to the wild as soon as
possible (but no
more than 4 weeks
after the animal being rescued) and does not
obtain a rescue
If a person
rescues any Black Cockatoos, monotremes
(echidnas, platypus) or koalas they are to
immediately contact the duty officer
DEH for advice.
In all situations
it is essential that full details of possession
be recorded by the carer to substantiate the
source and progress of the animal.
Details of a
rescued animal are to be recorded in the permit
holder’s Protected Animals Record Book.
permits are not always issued. A person will
be advised in writing if their application is
refused. The permit may be subject to special
conditions (e.g. releasing the animal when it
can fend for itself).
If an individual
keeps more than one native
animal [listed as basic: refer to schedule 6 of
the National Parks and Wildlife (Wildlife)
Regulations 2001] or keeps an animal of a
that person must obtain a permit under section
58 of the Act. Two options are available:-
permit to Keep Rescued Animals
(hereinafter referred to as “KRA”)
that entitles the holder to keep any
animals taken under a section 53(1)(d)
rescue permit. Those
persons wishing to keep specialist animals will
be required to be endorsed for those
will be assessed to ensure they have the
necessary skills, experience and enclosures to
keep the specialist animals. There will be no
fee applying to KRA permits. Persons keeping an
animal under a KRA will not be able to sell or
otherwise dispose of the animal. The KRA will
not apply to the progeny of rescued animals. If
a person keeping animals under a KRA
subsequently breeds from those animals the
permit holder will be required to obtain a Keep
and Sell permit and pay a permit fee.
basic or specialist Keep and Sell permit.
If a person keeps more than one
[listed as basic] or keeps an animal of a
that person will be required to obtain a Keep
and Sell permit. Keep and Sell permit holders
will be required to pay an annual permit fee.
A person must not
sell, give, exchange or otherwise dispose of a
rescued animal. However, a transfer may be
allowed in special circumstances. The permit
holder is required to seek approval in writing,
prior to transfer. The progeny of rescued
animals may be sold as long as the carer has the
appropriate Keep and Sell permit.
If an animal is
rescued in another State (e.g. an Eastern grey
kangaroo joey rescued by a truck driver) and
imported into South Australia the carer must
apply for an import permit. The animal must not
have been acquired in contravention of other
moving interstate must apply for an export
permit. Before moving they are advised to check
with the relevant State wildlife agency to
ascertain the requirements for keeping the
ASSESSMENT AND EVALUATION PROCESS
for a rescue permit
needs to be assessed by a National Parks and
Wildlife warden. The following will be taken
into consideration in assessing the
Acquisition by novices.
At times well-meaning members of the public keep
a rescued animal in breach of the Act. Such
individuals may lack the necessary skills and
experience to care for the animal. As a result
the animal may be in a state of neglect or
distress. The welfare of the animal is the main
concern of DEH and
individuals should be encouraged to surrender
the animal to an experienced carer or to care
for the animal under the guidance of a person
experienced in the keeping of that
Illegal Acquisition of an animal.
Some individuals use the
rescue permit system
to acquire an animal for illegal purposes. The
officer assessing the
rescue application must pay particular
attention to species
that are sought after in the trade, such as the
Major Mitchell’s Cockatoo, Yellow-tailed
Black-Cockatoo, wombats, pythons and some
lizards. The carer may be required to provide a
tissue/blood sample from the animal for DNA
analysis and/or allow a threatened
species to be
implanted with a microchip.
Appropriate Care and assessment.
The animal’s welfare is of
paramount concern and prolonged suffering must
be prevented. To this end, a rapid and accurate
assessment of an individual animal is important.
The applicant must have appropriate
qualifications, experience and facilities to
care for a particular
species. Applicants without relevant
experience must have access to an experienced
carer, who can supply the necessary guidance and
Carers must possess the ability to assess the
animal's potential for recovery and
release when taking
the animal into care.
is defined as reintroducing rescued animals back
into the wild.
release of a rescued
animal is acceptable if:-
is a self-sustainable animal and the
release conducted is
within 48 hours of rescue
(within its home range and is not a biosecurity
48 hours, a release
can be conducted only if it meets
(refer to part 3.8)
release is conducted
in accordance with a Threatened
A carer is to
consider the following factors prior to
time of year, weather conditions, territory,
predators, adequate food supply, hibernation,
habitat availability, competition for resources
and socialisation. A carer should use the
precautionary principle - if there is any doubt
animal being released must be self-sustainable,
physically fit, weaned and able to recognise
natural food. It must be released as close as
possible to the point of capture provided that
it is within its natural range.
animal being released must not be imprinted,
incapacitated, a biosecurity risk, actively
showing disease signs, non endemic to the area
or unlikely to survive.
release is not to be
undertaken if the rescued animal is a handreared,
humanised animal of any
species. There are situations where
humanised animals may survive if released under
a stringent conditions (e.g. magpies & possums),
however the release
of these animals can only be undertaken if a
management plan is prepared and is approved by
the Director, National Parks and Wildlife.
with permanent disabilities and exotic animals
(e.g. turtle doves, Barbary doves, sparrows) are
not to be released (the latter is an offence
under the Animal and Plant Control
(Agricultural Protection and Other Purposes Act).
The Act provides
restrictions on the release
of a native animal
from captivity. Section 55 of the Act states “A
person must not release
a protected animal or an animal of a
species listed in
schedule 10 (i.e. an unprotected animal such as
a galah, zebra finch, budgerygah,little Corella)
from captivity unless that person is authorised
to do so by a permit granted by the Minister”,
or released in line with an approved management
release a rescued
animal onto private land is required from the
landholder. The release
of an animal into a National Park, Conservation
Park, Game Reserve, Recreation Park, Regional
Reserve or Wilderness Protection Area is only
permitted under an approved recovery program.
release of an animal
on other Crown land is only permitted with the
approval of the relevant authority.
Euthanasia is the
quick and humane killing of a rescued animal.
Animals are to be
euthanased where there is an unacceptable degree
of disability or suffering, where the animal is
dying (e.g. mangy possums) or diseased,
A person killing
an animal should consider their own safety,
public safety, efficacy, available humane
techniques, sensitivities of bystanders, and
aesthetics. In cases where the rescued animal is
listed as a threatened
species, the carer should contact a
veterinarian and DEH
before euthanasing the animal. Obviously, if the
animal is in extreme distress and there is no
other alternative, euthanasia may have to be
performed even in these cases.
If the animal
cannot be euthanased quickly in a humane manner
it should be taken to a local veterinary
A rescued animal
should not be euthanased if there is a humane
captivity is the holding of rescued animals
where there is no intention to
release that animal
that is unreleasable (e.g. permanent disability)
of unknown origin
reared imprinted animals
An animal should
not be kept as a permanent captive if it will
not settle in captivity. Rescued animals should
only be placed on public display if the animal
does not suffer stress and there is an
educational benefit in doing so. Groups or
individuals are encouraged to prepare a code of
practice for the display of rescued animals.
The policy shall
be subject to review on an ongoing basis by
National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.
and Wildlife (Wildlife) Regulations 2001.
Cruelty to Animals Act 1985.
The Animal and Plant Control (Agricultural
Protection and Other Purposes) Act 1986.
“Guidelines for the Rescue
and Rehabilitation of
Native Animals”. Dated 22 December
1998 prepared by Dr Deb Kelly, Manager, Resource
Protection, Gary Fitzpatrick, Operations
Manager, Cleland, Bob Chance, IT Support
Kensington, Robin Storr, Biodiversity
Partnerships, Peter Alexander, Manager,
Biodiversity Conservation Program and Frank Dal
Piva, Manager, Compliance.
Bird, P.L., Dal Piva, F., Inns, R.W., Kelly, D.K.
and Storr R.F., 1998; The Common Brushtail
Possum in South Australia, Fauna Management
Coordinating Committee, Department for
Environment, Heritage and Aboriginal Affairs,
Koala Policy, Rescue,
Transport, Holding and Transfer. Draft dated
25 March 2002
This policy was
endorsed by the CFCC at its meeting on 11 August
This policy was
endorsed by the WAC at its meeting on 1 October