Anyone who wants to undertake the rescue and/or release of wildlife must follow Public Health advice relating to minimising the risk of COVID-19.
Can I continue to rescue or release wildlife?
Anyone who has
- has tested positive for COVID-19
- has been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19
- is required to quarantine
is not allowed to rescue, rehabilitate or release wildlife.
If you are not in these categories then the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife is, at this time, permitted, provided appropriate hygiene and physical distancing measures are put in place, including maintaining a distance of two square metres per person if working indoors.
Wildlife rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators must continue to follow all government directives related to physical distancing and hygiene practices.
Carers should also note:
- availability of veterinary clinics, wildlife rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators to care for injured and orphaned wildlife may be limited due to COVID-19
- veterinary clinics may require an appointment for any visits, and prefer payments to be electronic. Social distancing measures apply inside the clinic, and some veterinary services may not be available at this time.
Are there changes to the way wildlife rescue operates?
At this time, wildlife rescuers can continue to operate. However, rescue services must take precautions to ensure their volunteers are operating in a safe working environment.
Is additional hygiene necessary?
It is considered unlikely that wildlife are infected with COVID-19. However, wildlife may be involved in the transfer of the infection from person to person.
A carer may become aware that they are positive for COVID-19 after
- rescuing wildlife
- transporting wildlife
- taking wildlife into care
Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 will be required to notify the authorities of possible contacts, and rescuers and carers should include wildlife movements and transfers in this disclosure.
COVID-19 may persist on wildlife fur for up to two days (subject to the right conditions) if they are in contact with an infected person. Decontamination and hygiene measures will mitigate the risk of transfer from person to person.
The following hygiene measures should be undertaken:
- wildlife-human face contact must be minimised and PPE must be worn
- hot detergent wash for all rescue and rehabilitation equipment
- good hand hygiene must continue to be a priority throughout all rescue and rehabilitation activities
The Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment acknowledges the important role of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services and volunteers, and will continue to work with the sector during these challenging times.