May 26 - June 1, 2024: Issue 627


Australian Wildlife are NOT Pets: Volunteer Carers Issue plea to surrender found wildlife to trained registered carers

Wildlife laws could be overhauled in Queensland after the saga of Molly the magpie, a bird kept by former wildlife carers to make money from through an Instagram page and products/ books sold, sparked a national uproar. 

A review of nature laws could allow Queenslanders, due to have a state lection this October 26 2024, to acquire licences to care for native animals that are deemed “unsuitable” to be returned to the wild.

Queensland’s Environment Minister Leanne Linard confirmed on May 1 2024 she had asked her department’s Director General to undertake an eight-week review of the Code of Practice that governs the care of injured, sick and orphaned animals.

“As the current Code of Practice has been in place for more than three years, and its operation has been tested in that period, it is [time] for a detailed review to consider its effectiveness, useability and completeness. In particular, lessons learnt from recent cases will be considered as part of the review,” she said.

Molly was taken from a Gold Coast couple because the Department of Environment (DESI) determined it was unsuitable to live as a wild bird because it was “highly habituated” to humans and likely had “developmental issues”. With the Peggy and Molly accounts attracting a following of over two million people across Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, there was never any thought the bird would be euthanised and plans were made to place it in a sanctuary.

But the case uncovered a separate instance of birds that weren’t so lucky. This involved a native white raven and exotic eclectus parrot that had been cared for by Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue for five years, which were surrendered due to a paperwork error and then destroyed by DESI on advice from vets.

The Twinnies case resulted in their local member Jason Hunt rushing to their house to break the heartbreaking news, and he then wrote to Linard asking her to intervene.

“With the recent cases of Molly the Magpie and the white crow and eclectus parrot cared for by Twinnies Pelican and Seabird Rescue, and following representations made by the Member for Caloundra, I asked the Director-General of my Department to undertake a review into the settings for the care of injured, sick and orphaned animals under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 and associated regulations and the Code of Practice,” Linard said.

“The Director-General has proposed that Queensland’s Chief Scientist undertake the review, supported by a panel of experts to provide a range of scientific input into the process.”

While Molly the magpie's followers were overjoyed by its return, many wildlife rescuers have been concerned Premier Steven Mile's intervention could lead Australians to believe its okay to take magpies and other wildlife home and raise them.

Linard said her review will focus on three aspects of the Code of Practice which include:

The regulatory framework as it relates to the care of injured, sick and orphaned wildlife,

The effectiveness, useability and completeness of the Code of Practice for injured, sick and orphaned animals, and

The case for a new class of carer's licence for animals that are unsuitable to be rehabilitated and returned to the wild, but might otherwise be healthy.

NSW Government Is Looking To The Future: Improving Wildlife Rehabilitation And Care

The NSW Government announced on Wednesday May 15 2024, it is launching statewide consultation on the wildlife rehabilitation sector to gain a detailed understanding of how NSW can improve the way we care for our native animals.

The consultation will examine the challenges facing the sector, identify best practices and recommend next steps.

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Trish Doyle will lead the consultation and provide a report on the outcomes to Minister for the Environment Penny Sharpe within 12 months.

In NSW, 40 wildlife rehabilitation groups involving more than 8600 people rescue an average of 110,000 animals a year.

The sector is mostly made up of dedicated and passionate volunteers who respond to more than 180,000 calls for help from the community each year.

This work is supported by specialised wildlife hospitals and many local veterinary services.

The value of the sector’s work is estimated at $27 million a year.

The consultation will consider a range of areas:
  • challenges for the sector
  • resourcing
  • connections within the sector
  • service gaps and duplication
  • involvement in emergency response and significant wildlife events
  • administrative and legislative provisions
  • support for wildlife hospitals and veterinary practices.
'Our state is home to animals which live nowhere else on this planet and the NSW Government is committed to ensuring sick and injured native wildlife receive the best care and rehabilitation. The government recently invested $8 million into wildlife hospitals and care facilities across NSW and another $500,000 to support wildlife rehabilitators in Sydney’s South West.' the government said in a release

This consultation will inform next steps for the NSW Volunteer Wildlife Rehabilitation Sector Strategy 2020-23. That strategy will be extended until 30 June 2025 while this review is underway.

Minister for Climate Change and the Environment Penny Sharpe said:

“Wildlife rescuers and rehabilitators are essential to the care and survival of native animals across NSW.

“We need to build on the achievements of the previous strategy and ensure the sector is supported for the future.

“I look forward to receiving this review, which will help inform and guide this important work.”

Parliamentary Secretary for the Environment Trish Doyle said:
“The NSW Government values the contribution of wildlife rehabilitators, who provide valuable work for the community by rescuing and caring for sick, injured and orphaned native animals across the state every day.

“I look forward to listening to their experiences to understand the challenges and opportunities facing the sector.

“We need an integrated, future focused strategy to support the wonderful people who care for our native animals, while ensuring wildlife rehabilitation services are well connected and sustainable.”