What to do if you find injured wildlife: podcast with Pete the Vet on Newstalk’s Pat Kenny Show

How many people don’t know what to do when they find a sick, injured or abandoned wild animal? While your local vet may the obvious place to bring such creatures, not all vets are willing or able to help. And while most vets probably are happy to give first aid care, what about the next stage? To hear the radio broadcast, click on the link at the foot of this page, or read on for some written information.

Three possible outcomes for injured wildlife

In most cases, there are three possible outcomes when a wild creature is taken to the vet

  1. There may be no serious injuries or illness: the animal has a minor injury that can be quickly treated, or just needs a short period of rest and recuperation before being released in the same place that it was found.
  2. An animal may be so severely injured that successful treatment is impossible, and the best way of relieving their pain is euthanasia.
  3. The animal may have injuries or illness that can be treated, but a prolonged period of recovery is needed. This category is the most challenging. Wild animals need to have surroundings that are suited to their species and state of health. While many people try to care for such animals at home, it’s far from ideal: there’s a serious risk that the animals will become tame, familiarised to human company, and then they will be unable to flourish when the carers attempt to release them into the wild later.
    Ideally, such cases should be transferred to a dedicated wildlife rehabilitation centre run by an organisation whose main focus is the care of wildlife. That’s exactly what happens in many other countries – such as the UK – but Ireland is deficient in this area. Instead, this work is currently carried out by a small number of individual volunteers and groups. They are under resourced with money and facilities,so that they can’t come close to keeping up with the demand for their services. They are always under pressure. There must be a better answer than this current makeshift arrangement.

Hope for the future: a National Wildlife Rehabilitation and Teaching Hospital

A group of ambitious wildlife enthusiasts are rapidly progressing ambitious plans to improve the situation for wildlife care in this country. Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland was established in 2010, with the aim of supporting wildlife rehabilitators, and working for the general advancement of wildlife protection and rehabilitation in Ireland.
The group has achieved many goals since it was established. An excellent website has been set up offering useful advice to members of the public, wildlife rehabilitators, and vets who encounter injured or unwell wildlife. Step by step interactive guides make it easy to work out the best course of action to take to help the animal, and the contacts page enables you to find a rehabilitator or vet near you for advice and help.
WRI has also organised regular wildlife conferences, teaching others about wildlife care, and they offer specialist Wildlife Rehabilitation Courses concentrating on the theory and practice of wildlife rehabilitation and to help people learn more about taking their interest further. WRI Instructors are recognised as leaders in their chosen field, lecturing to vet students as part of the veterinary course at UCD.

The long term aim of Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland is to set up a self-sustaining National Wildlife Rehabilitation and Teaching Hospital.

  • The new Wildlife Hospital will have the facility, expertise and capacity to care for and rehabilitate all native wildlife species
  • A visitor and education centre with shop, exhibition area, library, offices, store room, lab, classroom and conference rooms.
  • Paid staff will look after the hospital and animals on-site education and training for anyone interested in learning more.
  • Volunteers will be encouraged to help out, in the same way as volunteers have always helped at Dublin Zoo.
  • The project will be a social enterprise partnership (SEP) project in a joint venture with an organisation that provides for the needs of disadvantaged groups in society.
  • Disadvantaged groups will be offered the opportunity to care for injured animals in return for their own educational advancement and personal development.
  • The new wildlife care facility will become a major tourist attraction on the east coast of Ireland.

A serious level of fundraising is needed to get this project off the ground, but the volunteers are committed to their ideal , and I have no doubt that they will reach their goal. I am hopeful that within a decade, when I have a sick wild animal that needs ongoing care, I will be able to send them in their comfortable carrier cage to this new and exciting centre of excellence.

Visit www.wri.ie to find out more and to discover how you can make this dream become reality.

Questions from listeners

  • A hedgehog keeps coming into our yard at night and eating left over dog food- is this safe or could it do harm?
  • What does one do if a vet refuses to accept or treat any wildlife that is brought to their surgery? Many thanks. Chris B-P
  • I recently brought a stranded pigeon from my garden to the vet he subsequently went to a sanctuary thought it was a great idea Maria in Kildare
  • I have foxes in my neighbourhood, are my cats safe? Andrew

To find out the answers to the questions, listen to the podcast by clicking on the link below.


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