Government needs to step in, wildlife rescuer says amid a struggle to fund dart services

Two locally based wildlife rescue services say it is time the government footed the bill for darting and tranquilising animals.

Their comments came after Melbourne-based network Wildlife Victoria last month said it could no longer afford to dart kangaroos.

Wildlife Rescue Information Network vice-president Vicki Fox believed urbanisation was driving a growing need to tranquilise wildlife to be safely moved.

It cost WRIN $300 for each animal and because of tight margins its specialist darter, who traveled in from the Macedon Ranges, often worked for free.

That was the case a few months ago, when WRIN rescuers assisted a kangaroo that had been on a vacant lot in Strathfieldsaye.

Vicki Fox

Vicki Fox

Mrs Fox said the kangaroo was “stressed out of its brain” and there was a risk it could have suffered health complications including a heart attack if rescuers had tried to chase it out of the street’s warren of new houses, fences and dogs.

Instead the specialist darted the kangaroo.

“The neighbours down this street were chipping in $10 and $20 dollars here and there to at least partly cover the costs,” Mrs Fox said.

WRIN had brought in their specialist darter at least 15 times this year to help kangaroos and joeys.

Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service vice-president Jo Lyall said her group also regularly darted animals.

Demand varied throughout the year.

“Through fire seasons we’ve done more than I would care to count,” she said.

It was not just medications that had to be paid for, Ms Lyall said. Regardless of the type of rescue, reaching rescue sites was a major source of spending.

She said a lot of work also went into dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s with relevant authorities before an animal was darted.

Ms Lyall and Mrs Fox both believed wildlife rescuers needed the government to fund darting, as well as provide more money for equipment and shelter care.

RELATED:

A spokesman for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said the government provided funding for wildlife rehabilitators through an annual grants program.

“However, costs associated with drugs used for sedation ... and the purchase of firearms or a firearms license are not covered under the program,” he said.

Depending on the type of sedation drugs used, vets had to be present to either supervise or administer doses after assessing each animal, according to the Wildlife Act 1975.

“The aim of the grants is to help our volunteer wildlife shelter operators and carers recoup some of their out of pocket expenses incurred during their wildlife rehabilitation work,” the DELWP spokesperson said.

“Items that are covered include veterinary fees, milk formula, feed, enclosures, infrastructure and equipment including personal protective equipment.”