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Wildlife Carer sounds alert on Andrews Government signals against wildlife

"In an irresponsible and callous move and buried in the discussion paper of the Authority To Control Wildlife Review, the Daniel Andrews’ Government has signalled interest in adopting a policy that will see ALL sick, injured and orphaned kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos KILLED instead of rescued and rehabilitated. This short-sighted and catastrophic policy may act to drive wildlife carers underground and will see members of the public refusing to hand over animals to vets and shelters in the fear that joeys and saveable animals will be automatically killed, resulting in horrendous and widespread animal suffering." (Helen Round, Wildlife carer, Macedon Ranges, Victoria.)

Text of letter to media

As one of the wildlife carers in Victoria, who shoulders much of the cost and responsibility of caring for sick, orphaned and injured wildlife in Victoria, I am writing to you because of a recent horrific proposal coming from the Andrews' State Government that could force Victorian wildlife carers to kill all healthy, saveable and viable kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos that come in to care.

It’s a tough life being a volunteer. 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 overtired, under resourced and overstretched women – are currently fighting a state government proposal that will result in mass animal deaths and horrific and widespread animal suffering. But, we need to be visible to be effective and that is why I am writing to you.

Authority to control wildlife - culling abuses

In an irresponsible and callous move and buried in the discussion paper of the Authority To Control Wildlife Review, the Daniel Andrews’ Government has signalled interest in adopting a policy that will see ALL sick, injured and orphaned kangaroos, wombats, possums and cockatoos KILLED instead of rescued and rehabilitated. This short-sighted and catastrophic policy may act to drive wildlife carers underground and will see members of the public refusing to hand over animals to vets and shelters in the fear that joeys and saveable animals will be automatically killed, resulting in horrendous and widespread animal suffering.

As they rescue and rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, hundreds, if not thousands, of trained, experienced and self-funded volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers provide a service to the community that the public expect and the government fails to and cannot hope to provide.

Shockingly, volunteers fund all wildlife rescue and rehabilitation from their own pockets with no funding from the state government apart from a tokenistic and inadequate annual wildlife shelter grant system. Yet the Andrews’ Government is planning to deprive the community of this invaluable service, declaring that it is too costly to raise these animals and that they want to free up shelter resources. This is a cynical and disingenuous ploy and an insulting falsehood from a government who does not fund wildlife rescue and rehabilitation and support a raft of policies that are detrimental to wildlife across all sectors.

No one else can give the same level of service with the commitment, dedication and efficiency that existing volunteer wildlife carers and rescuers provide. No Government budget would be big enough and no department would be competent enough to achieve the same outcomes.

As carers and rescuers, we are committed to rescuing injured animals and we will continue to rescue and euthanise when necessary but, we will not become Daniel Andrew’s ‘killing machines’ to slaughter viable and healthy animals. We will not facilitate a policy that is morally corrupt and that has no scientific merit.

It is incomprehensible that politicians and bureaucrats have not considered the psychological impact these cruel policies will have on wildlife rescuers, carers and veterinarians who will be expected to kill viable animals, let alone the impact on members of the community who also encounter wildlife in need.

The fate of Victoria’s native wildlife is in the hands of a mega-department with interests that conflict with flora and fauna conservation and that is actively working to harm and exploit wildlife for political and economic gain.

I want to ask everyone to contact Victorian parliamentarians and remind them that wildlife and wildlife volunteers are valued, that Australia has the highest rate of mammalian extinction on the planet and that all ‘threatened’ and ‘extinct species’ were once considered ‘common and secure’.

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