Injured wildlife can be encountered on road sides, beaches, parks, homes... just about anywhere people and wildlife cross paths. People who find injured animals naturally want to help, but what should be done to transport and care for these animals safely?
The primary rule in rescuing wildlife is to keep yourself safe. Wildlife can carry diseases, and if frightened can also inflict injury. Depending on the situation surrounding the injury, animals may be located on busy streets, dangerous rocks, power lines, deep crevasses, etc - do not put yourself in danger to rescue the animal. If possible, it is always recommended to contact the relevant authorities, such as the local area Rangers. If unsure who to contact, getting in touch with a local veterinary or emergency veterinary hospital may help to put you in touch with the appropriate services.
In the case of injured black cockatoos, it is advised not to handle these protected animals - ring Conservation and Land Management or the local rangers for advice regarding rescue.
Animals should not be handled directly, and protective clothing and materials should be used to prevent contact between the rescuer and the animal or any bodily fluids. Hands should be thoroughly washed aft handling animals. If you are bitten or scratched by an animal in the process of rescue, apply first aid and seek medical attention immediately, making sure to inform the medical practitioner of the species of animal involved. Bats in particular should not be handled directly, as they can transmit the potentially fatal Australian Bat Lyssavirus - if possible, rangers or vaccinated professional staff should be called in to manage these species. Birds and reptiles also pose a potential risk, as both species can transmit Salmonella, and parrots the bacteria responsible for the serious illness ornithosis.
Birds, reptiles, amphibians and small adult mammals can be transported in dark, breathable containers, such as boxes. In amphibians, moist toweling can help to maintain moisture balance. In mammals, reptiles and birds, towels can be useful to capture animals, and also used to softly bed the cage. Water may be provided in a small dish. Keep the box in a dark, quiet environment and transport to a receptive vet clinic or wildlife centre (it helps to ring ahead and make sure they accept wildlife!).
For marsupials, pouch young (joeys) are often encountered near or within the pouches of female marsupials which have been injured or killed. Unfurred young, often referred to as pinkies, are particularly vulnerable and require immediate transfer to a wildlife carer or veterinary hospital.
Joeys are usually calmest if returned to a pouch - pillowslips, cloth shopping bags and even beanies make good substitutes. Placing the bag within a box and near a heat source, such as a warm (but not hot!) water bottle or wheat bag can help to maintain the animal's body temperature.
Most people who rescue animals are not experienced and licensed wildlife carers. Though it may be tempting to keep the rescued animal as a pet, particularly with cute baby animals, raising these animals in captivity can not only be bad for their health, but also for the wild population. Additionally, we rarely have the foods and enclosures needed to fill the specialist requirements of each species. Giving cows milk to an orphaned Joey, for example, can lead to potentially fatal diarrhea. In all cases, it is best to transport the rescued animal to a professional facility for care - contacting your local veterinary clinic can help to direct you to the nearest help.