Government flags ban on wildlife carers treating injured & orphaned kangaroos

An Australian state government wants to ban wildlife shelters from treating injured kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos, claiming they’re “over-abundant” species.

Kanga pouch

The Victorian government has published a discussion paper outlining proposed changes to wildlife management regulations, and is seeking public comment on the review.

It also flags a crackdown on wildlife carers releasing rehabilitated kangaroos and wombats on to their properties in rural areas, claiming this can result in ” unnaturally high concentrations of released wildlife” with  “significant impacts” for neighbours.

The  discussion paper, prepared by the Victorian government’s Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, is canvassing public opinion on changes that could make it easier to issue Authority to Control Wildlife permits. These are basically permits to kill or “remove” wildlife such as  kangaroos and wombats or to use nets and acoustic devices to scare birds.

According to the paper, the Victorian government issued more than 4,000 permits for lethal and non-lethal control of wildlife in 2017. It says  2,732 of these permits for were eastern grey kangaroos, 252 were for wombats and 109 for Australian wood ducks.

“The aim of the review is to develop stakeholder informed recommendations on how to improve the ATCW (Authority to Control Wildlife) system so that it sensibly balances the needs of Victoria’s human and wildlife populations,” it says. Yep, the bureaucrat lingo is dense and aims to obfuscate……

But why appear to target wildlife shelters? The department goes to some lengths to reassure  anonymous “stakeholders” (who are they? Local councils, developers, farmers, the hunting lobby?) that it is “not considering removing the ability for people to undertake lethal control of wildlife when it is necessary.”

The same level of reassurance doesn’t appear to be extended to wildlife carers. They’re warned about the potential consequences of breaching their licence conditions by releasing or feeding rehabilitated wildlife on their properties.

And then there’s this…….

“Wildlife shelters and foster carers invest significant  time and resources rehabilitating sick, injured and orphaned Eastern Grey Kangaroos. Given that the species is overabundant in many areas and is the species that the majority of ATCWs are issued for, some members of the community have suggested that the species should not be able to be rehabilitated under the wildlife shelter system.”

Some members of the community? That’s a bit vague….are they farmers, hunters, property developers, insurance companies who pay out millions each year for car damage claims caused by wildlife collisions…….the government needs to deal in specifics.

The discussion paper says the ban is “outside the scope” of the current permit review, but “may be considered in future reviews of the wildlife shelter system, as it may save significant shelter resources and reduce the impact of the species on landholders.”

“It may also be appropriate to consider whether the rehabilitation of unprotected wildlife, such as wombats, cockatoos or possums, should be disallowed or restricted,” it says.

There are several chat forums on Facebook for wildlife carers, and they leave no doubt that it’s a tough life for these volunteers. Apart from the exhausting, relentlessly routine physical work involved in wildlife rehabilitation (cleaning pens & feed bins, round the clock feeding schedules) there’s the financial outlay on items like feeding equipment, cloth pouches, towels, fencing materials, veterinary medications, petrol and electricity bills.

Wildlife carers – who are mostly women – also get viciously trolled on social media & receive fake call outs. But, they need to be visible to be effective.

Depression and burn out are frequent topics on those social media forums, And yet, they receive little support from most of Australia’s major conservation groups who use wildlife as an emotive marketing tool while doing little – if anything – to help volunteers and community groups working at a local level.

The Victorian government’s discussion paper creates yet more pressure for volunteers who are already doing the – largely unacknowledged – heavy lifting for community conservation and biodiversity education. They deserve more respect, or at least the same level of respect being offered by the department to those anonymous “stakeholders”.

In many areas, Victorian premier Daniel Andrews has been progressive and compassionate – but the environment isn’t one of them. Strong conservation initiatives were conspicuously absent from the government’s recent 2018-19 budget and Andrews has alienated sections of his own party by his support for a duck hunting season.

Just six months ago, Andrews was promising to “deliver more support for animal welfare in Victoria”.  He promised to review the state’s Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act “in close consultation with key stakeholders and the Victorian community replacing it with a modern animal welfare act in 2019.”

According to a government statement, the new act will “recognise the sentience of animals, reflecting the strong evidence that exists showing animals fear and feel pain.”

“This will ensure animal welfare management and legislation in Victoria develops to meet community expectations,” it said.

“The Government will also commit to publishing an annual Animal Welfare report by Animal Welfare Victoria that outlines achievements, challenges and actions regarding better animal welfare outcomes in Victoria.”

This rhetoric doesn’t match the language used by the DELWP discussion paper. There’s more than a dark hint of intimidation in the latter for the state’s wildlife carers.

The link to the discussion paper is here – public comment closes on 29 June.

About rosslynbeeby

Environment journalist & researcher, worked for Fairfax & ABC Radio Australia - now independent & unmuzzled. Big interest in biodiversity & conservation research, political policy shifts, greener cities, smarter farming & climate change. Awarded Asia Pacific Jefferson Fellowship (for climate change research in US) Currently Australian & NZ editor for global research policy news service, Research Professional.
This entry was posted in animal welfare, Australia, conservation, culls, environment, kangaroos, policy, Uncategorized, Victoria, volunteers, wildlife, wildlife carers and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

38 Responses to Government flags ban on wildlife carers treating injured & orphaned kangaroos

  1. Rae Harvey says:

    Thank you so much for writing this. We wildlife carers get little support from anywhere and put so much into rehabilitation. There’s a reason so many are passionate about Eastern Greys, this extremely misunderstood animal is sensitive, emotional, fragile and unique. I have given up everything for them and my only regret is that I don’t have enough years or finances left to fight for their rights as much as they deserve.

    Liked by 1 person

    • rosslynbeeby says:

      Wildlife carers do such good work & contribute so much to education, conservation & science. They are the backbone of conservation in this country & it’s thanks to the work of people like yourself that public opinion about kangaroos is changing.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. honeystrust says:

    ( am horrified and disgusted by this. Please all, write and contact DAnial Andrews to strongly objet. This must be stopped.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Billie Weir says:

    What about a mentor program run by Zoological Society to assist with enhancing education and resources for volunteers. Also, a 180 day report from volunteers providing structure towards ahearing to legislation and finance policy.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Lynne McAlister says:

    Our native animals deserve compassion, animal rights and protection. Anyone that dedicates their time to care for injured animals should be helped financially by our government not the opposite. It shows how little ethics or care our government have for our precious and intelligent marsupials! Shame on them! I’m totally disgusted that this is even considered or thought of. In a world where mankind is grossly overpopulated, and continuing to multiply with no consideration for the extinctions caused or effect to climate and natures balanced biodiversity where every animal has evolved to play a key role over millions of years . Our environment and wildlife need more support then ever! Our governments destructive environmental policies would see the Great Barrier Reef die, ancient forests cut down and more of our natives animals die. Australia has a terrible animal extinction rate! We must rise up against this idiocracy as it is not sustainable for any species.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Linda says:

    I have done most of a course on vet nursing and have always been interested in looking after all animals regardless of what they are. This is just wrong just because there animals doesn’t mean humans have the right to in a way get rid of them. I hate the way they have treated the aboriginal people too. It’s just wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rosie Jackson says:

    Wildlife need carers. Don’t be cruel Victoria. Wildlife need homes. Stop killing them Victoria.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hera sengers says:

    Would like to read the discussion paper. However the link does not work for me. Could you please send me the paper


  8. Kerry ferrari says:

    How utterly cruel to both animal and human.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Heather stokes says:

    Every animal has a right to live.
    They don’t put people down because they are injured.
    Animals have a heartbeat like us

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Jo Ingram says:

    I’m flabbergasted. We need to get vic carers together to fight vic govt on this. I run a shelter in the vic alps & my colleague runs a shelter also. We both do birds & mammals. But she does macropods & I care for wombats. It’s our choice to do this. How dare you Daniel Andrews. Thanks for this very well written explanation. And let’s start getting the info out there & spread around. Cheers.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Lorraine smitj says:

    I care for kangaroos, and other species of wildlife. This is absolutely disgracful. What you are saying couldnt be further from the truth. All wildlife carer, shelters will disagree and fight this.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Kat says:

    Quite apart from anything else, there’s something deeply disturbing about asking people to turn away from their best and most compassionate instincts.

    And thank you for your thoughtful and insightful blog. Writing about conservation in Australia must be a thankless task, but you not only persist but bring a depth of knowledge and willingness to interrogate the PR gloss which passes for government policy.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Connie Jackson says:

    Victoria Government…
    This is appalling. What’s wrong with you.?
    We need our wildlife.
    We are entitled to our wild life and our wild life need and deserve our protection.
    Our injured and orphaned native wildlife carers need to able to continue
    their dedicated and much appreciated work they do.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. PETA Russell says:

    You in government are a disgrace , you show now regard for our wildlife that are really struggling , its about time some care is taken , wildlife carers are so important to help our wildlife please support them in what they do

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Sheryl Lamb says:

    As a past wildlife rescue worker I am shocked to read this post….I have great admiration for the Andrews goverment and do believe that a positive outcome can be achieved for animals and humans. I understand the conserns with the increase in road accidents at the forefront. Wildlife carers deserve to be heard on this issue. Relocation of rehabilited wildlife to more secluded areas needs to be considered. Often rehabilitated wildlife are returned to where they were rescued from however if the area is overpopulated other options for release can and should be considered.


  16. Ken says:

    A nation that cares for its wildlife is nation that cares for all life.


  17. Lesley Wilson says:

    This is garbage….some species of kangaroos/wallabies and wombats are endangered and need protection.
    This proposal is outrageous


  18. MF says:

    I am disgusted with the mentalities of our current policiticans and their lack of interest in conserving our wildlife. It’s the logging of our national and state parks, the lack of funding to protect and rehabilitate wildlife and lack of thought towards waste and recycling and of course the lack of urgency towards climate change. We might as well eliminate all Australian wildlife and fauna, rebadge our country, let’s call it something else! As without our wildlife or our beautiful environment we don’t have Australia. And people who don’t appreciate it don’t deserve to live in it, including our policiticans.


  19. Penny Murden says:

    PLEASE, have some compassion and stop needless killing of defenseless animals.


  20. Joanne Baron says:

    What the!!!! Love what you do! Government have no heart and are disconnected with the real world!!!


  21. Sherry Portillo says:

    All animals including humans are similar. We all feel pain and suffering. Many animals besides humans will help an orphan or injured animal. Look at the good Samaritan in the bible. Thank goodness some just can’t help rescuing. Others care only for themselves and their greed. Please don’t be an “other” and try to outlaw rescuing. It would be against nature, against God and leaving animals to suffer is inhumane.


  22. Lucia Guzzardi says:

    Victoria again. How surprising.
    What is wrong with this guy?
    Why would we stop the rescue of our own native animals!
    They are native animals!!


  23. jodie sheridan says:

    When we are in a time of extinction of some of our wildlife (tasmanian devils, kwolls and Im sure there are probably many others) how can these sort of measures be introduced?
    The many wildlife carers in our community not only do an excellent (and sometimes thankless job!) in helping our wildlife but also save the government alot of money as they are usually Volunteers. As a “member of the community” I disagree with these sentiments(except for the idea of extra support for wildlife carers) and encourage others to also object.


  24. Kerree says:

    Well they are inhumane creeps if they allow the farmers and shooting parties that kill for their fun and sport to have their say. These animals should be protected and cared for especially when hurt. How dare this government allow Inhumane uncaring avoidance to not help any animal that is hurt.


  25. Anonymous says:

    I fear this won’t stop at Victoria, the other States should beware


  26. Thanks for this article. I have just found you and am now following.
    How can these psychopaths possibly believe they can ‘legislate compassion’?
    All beings deserve kindness. It’s not just a numbers game, each individual animal’s life matters.
    Animals are living things that feel pain and fear and suffering just as much as we do.


  27. Anonymous says:

    Quite a debated topic on what is right for conservation and what is right for the people’s opinion. The topic of “population numbers.” The human population number rises above 7 billion, and continues to increase each year. Covering a large percentage of the earths landmass and also clearing far more unessasary land than needed. Yet we debate another species population number over our own.

    The amount of injured joeys that arrive each year stack up into numbers of thousands. Would the government like to deal with each death themselves. I personally wouldn’t want to be responsible for turning away all the wildlife my family has saved over the years. That is too much death for one to handle. Legislation is slowly evolving but there needs to be more of an incorporation with communities such as the wildlife carers community. They need to incorporate the experience of the people who practice wildlife care and gain an understanding and perspective to reach a positive wildlife control. I believe you can’t gain a steady outcome without it.

    Liked by 1 person

  28. roomum says:

    Thank you for caring enough to write this piece, you’ve done well. We carers spend all our time, money and passion on caring for our native wildlife and so we need articulate voices like yours to speak for us. I’ve been a carer of kangaroos for the past 11 years, I’ve been in this country for 15. I’ve also taken months in intervals during that time to travel around Australia a few times. I’ve seen an obvious decline in kangaroos out there in the wild. Mobs maybe stuck in between massive human developments, but they are disappearing from the wide open spaces where they belong. No, we don’t cull other animals (as in humans) for overpopulation, over breeding, being orphaned or injured. It’s a shame that our government listens more to those who bray the loudest, with the deepest pockets. The government give wildlife carers no support, no assistance whatsoever, don’t listen when we ask for help, and they are now choosing to work against us. Life eh? Sorry….what was that? National emblem is a kangaroo, seriously?

    Liked by 1 person

  29. T Gray says:

    Omg what is wrong with the human race .. we need more people with compassion and who are willing to do this. Australian politicians do want our wildlife to become extinct as well

    Liked by 1 person

  30. Edward John Fensom says:

    This is targetting some common species and a a sector that is struggling for resources after the impacts of clearing, roadtrauma. , dog attacks Australia wide. The parallel phenomena is unsustainably cutting staff ,grants ,resources and legislative protection fot threatened species for a decade (Common Assessment Method & SEAP) Ted Fensom


  31. Janet Benner says:

    This is shocking we are compassionate humans, When you stop helping wildlife due to your own vehicles and development you all are the problem. This has nothing to do with overpopulation of these animals. I strongly hope you reconsider this action as it shows the world your narrow viewpoints. Let’s have some compassion and understanding for all the carers that .make your Country great.

    Liked by 1 person

  32. I work for Wildlife Victoria as a rescuer and transporter and I also volunteer at a Wildlife Shelter and am applying for my Wildlife Carer license. If I am willing to spend my own time and money and resources on care for our native animals who are these people to say I should not do so?? I chose this expense its non of their business! As to whether these species are worth saving—-well if you don’t think so you are not a humane human. In Australia the overpopulation is a human problem both of ourselves and our bad and unsustainable farming practices.
    LEAVE THE Animals and their carers alone!!!! Compassionate people should be encouraged in our society.

    Liked by 1 person

  33. Jo Rye says:

    I am outraged at this idea, that wildlife carers should give up their work. They deserve more support and respect, not this denigration. I think it is important that we give feedback to this Discussion Paper. Governments love bureaucracy and reports, and see feedback as showing that we are stakeholders and ‘engaged in the process’. But I have worked as a volunteer with wildlife for years, and no heartless government discussion paper will stop me from doing this.


  34. Susan Sorensen says:

    What kind of barbaric, non-compassionate, emotionally unintelligent political discussion is this? Animals are animals, pain is pain, life is life. What gives the human the right to decide who lives and who dies? For society to develop empathy, care and concern for others, we must protect the innocent, the vulnerable and the voiceless at the very least.


  35. Alyssa says:

    Humans are overrunning territory inhabited by wildlife, yet the government treats them like pests and now suggests they have no right to care and rehabilitation. Wildlife carers and rescuers do a brilliant job and they deserve support from the government, not further red tape, heartache and vilification.


  36. Michelle Wynne says:

    How about we put a ban on old and injured politicians from receiving treatment. Certainly an overpriced species, that takes more than it gives. It would free up resources for a more balanced caring forward thinking balanced generation to permeate the annals of power!

    From all the injured ones, Thank you.


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