Wildlife rehabilitation and release in South East Queensland

Background

In Queensland, thousands of animals are rescued and brought into care each year which results in the investment of considerable time and resources. However, little research has been conducted about the animals or the effectiveness of their rehabilitation and release.

Over the past five years researchers from the University of Queensland have collaborated with RSPCA (QLD) to investigate wildlife rehabilitation and release in SE QLD. In particular they have focused on birds of prey (raptors and owls), kookaburras, koalas, and possums.

Aims

Using RSPCA Wildlife Hospital admittance and outcome records the aims were to:

  • Estimate the extent of wildlife rehabilitation in SE QLD
  • Identify major causes of wildlife admission
  • Evaluate outcomes for the wildlife
  • Make recommendations for improving rehabilitation practices

Results

  These results showed how the number of wildlife admissions has increased over recent years

Birds were the most frequently admitted (10,000+ per year) – more than 50%, and most were abundant species found in urban and peri-urban areas.

The major causes of admission were:

  • Habitat destruction – urban development
  • Introduced predators – cats, dogs, foxes
  • Human interventions – trauma, accidents

Outcomes

Only about 20% of all animals are released, with more than 50% requiring euthanasia.

But - release rates do vary for different species – for instance kookaburras are twice as likely to be released than other birds.

The higher release rates for laughing kookaburras may be related to their anatomy, behaviour and type of injuries.

Recommendations

Biggest causes of wildlife admission are through human actions (habitat destruction, introduced predators, and human interventions). As such, we should minimise our impact on the native wildlife in our living area by learning to “live with wildlife”.

 

Project members

Dr Andrew Tribe

Wildlife Manager
The Gainsdale Group