ABSTRACT

Although the ultimate goal of wildlife rehabilitation is to return animals to the wild, some are permanently unable to be released. Some non-releasable animals may be suitable for permanent care. The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has the statutory role for arranging the appropriate placement of these animals in New South Wales. Under the current management framework, wildlife rehabilitators may apply for the permanent care of non-releasable animals under certain circumstances. If such an application is refused or not sought, NPWS ballots animals to suitable zoological parks and other exhibitors licensed by the Department of Primary Industries. The Frog and Tadpole Study Group rehomes non-releasable frogs with amphibian keepers licensed by NPWS. Between 2014 and 2018, 165 rehabilitation animals were placed under this framework, the majority of which were mammals (54%) and birds (41%). NPWS undertook a review of the framework in consultation with 17 stakeholder organisations. The review explored the need for a consistent approach to assessing animals as non-releasable, opposing views on when animals should be euthanased, the appropriateness of placing wild-born animals with exhibitors, and policy deficiencies resulting in placements that are not necessarily the best possible welfare outcome for the animal nor the best possible conservation outcome for the species. As non-releasable animals present themselves under a wide range of circumstances, the management framework requires a balance between consistency and pragmatism to achieve optimal animal welfare and conservation outcomes.

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