With warm weather and longer evenings, wildlife of all shapes and sizes is out and about.
Do you know what to do if you come across injured wildlife, or worse still if you actually hit and injure an animal?
First and foremost DON'T PANIC ... it is incredibly unnerving when you hit an animal, or find one that is injured ... they may be calling or in the case of possums, screaming, and it is perfectly normal to feel overwhelmed and in shock.
DO NOT approach snakes, large kangaroos or wallabies, bats or birds of prey. These species MUST be handled by TRAINED rescuers.
CALL FOR HELP - If you find an injured or orphaned animal, call for help as soon as possible. These numbers vary from state to state so it's good idea to have it stored in your phone. A wildlife carer will talk you through removing a joey from a mother's pouch or helping an injured animal or can come and assist. WIRES has a comprehensive list at www.wires.org.au/rescue/interstate-rescues
If you are unable to call for help, then:
PARK SAFELY WITH HAZARD LIGHTS ON - Warn oncoming vehicles to slow down. Do not park your vehicle if not safe to do so. Be alert to your surroundings and traffic.
PROTECT YOURSELF - Personal safety is foremost. Injured animals don't know if you are going to help them or harm them. They may kick, scratch or bite. Also ensure you obey road safety rules.
APPROACH WITH CAUTION - Speak quietly and try not to frighten the animal. Remember injured wildlife may be in pain and very scared.
REMOVE THE THREAT - Keep people and domestic pets away, remove the animal from the road if necessary and if safe, as gently as possible wrap the animal in a towel and then secure in a pillow case or well-ventilated, lidded box for transport to a vet or to await the arrival of a wildlife carer.
REMOVE FROM THE ROAD - If the animal has died and it is safe to do so, move the animal well off the road to avoid secondary kills of birds of prey, and other scavengers which like to eat dead wildlife.
ALWAYS CHECK THE POUCH - Marsupials like wallabies, kangaroos, possums and wombats are often killed on roads leaving orphaned pouch young still alive. If the pouch is empty, but the teats are stretched or enlarged with milk, please check the surrounding area for a joey. It may have been ejected on impact, or climbed out and be hiding nearby. If you suspect an older joey is nearby and you can't find it, take careful note of your location and identifying landmarks so a wildlife rescuer can continue the search.
POUCH YOUNG (UNFURRED/ATTACHED) - If the joey is unfurred and still attached to the teat, it is preferable to transport the joey and deceased mother together to a vet. If this is not possible, please follow the instructions 'Identify Location' below and notify wildlife rescue as soon as possible.
REMOVING POUCH YOUNG (FURRED/UNATTACHED) - If the joey is not attached to the teat, remove it carefully by directing it back-first through the pouch opening. Wrap the joey in a towel/clothing, or place it in a beanie or pillowcase. If possible, also place the wrapped joey in a well-ventilated and secure, lidded box or container.
KEEP WARM, DARK & QUIET - An injured animal will be in shock so it is vital that they be kept warm, dark and quiet and taken to the vet immediately.
NO FOOD OR WATER - Do not give the animal any food or water unless instructed by a vet or rescuer.
VET ASSESSMENT - All sick or injured wildlife must be assessed by a vet as soon as possible. Many vets offer wildlife consultation free of charge, but check beforehand. Please call the vet to let them know you are coming.
IDENTIFY LOCATION - If possible, stay with the animal until help arrives. If unable to do so, the exact location must be highlighted (tie something bright to a post/tree, draw a large cross in gravel or place large sticks to form an arrow/GPS coordinates) so the rescuer can immediately locate it. Note any identifying features of the location that can be later found by wildlife rescuers.