ABSTRACT

The provision of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation services in New South Wales (NSW) relies heavily on the volunteer sector. The NSW Government regulates the sector and is responsible for identifying measures for its support and delivery of services. To inform this process, we undertook an extensive review of the sector. We report here on the results from our survey of NSW volunteer wildlife rehabilitators, who have collectively reported over 1,000,000 rescues of sick and injured free-living wildlife over the past 16 years. The survey provided a unique insight into the demographics of the sector, the challenges faced, and the value of their contribution to wildlife rehabilitation. Volunteers’ views on the operation of wildlife rehabilitation providers cover five key areas: governance, training, standards of care, service capacity and reporting, as well as the support received from other stakeholders, NSW Wildlife Council (the peak body for the sector), veterinary professionals and government. We found that the volunteer wildlife rehabilitation sector in NSW provides a significant public good that is of high value to the environment, community and government. We make recommendations for investment and strategic improvements to the capacity of the sector to continue to deliver services including transitioning wildlife rehabilitation providers towards a system of accreditation in the future.

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