Wildlife RehabilitationLecture 2 2. Introduction to practical and ethical issues in Wildlife Rehabilitation British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council 2008
Contents • What is rehabilitation • What do wildlife rehabilitators want to achieve? • How do they know when wildlife rehabilitation is ‘successful’? • What can rehabilitators do to make the process as successful as possible? • Should every animal that is rescued be released? • What else can go wrong?
What is rehabilitation? • Give an example of the use of the word rehabilitation or ‘rehab’ • Abusers of drugs and alcohol go into ‘rehab’ clinics to recover and learn how to cope when they return back to the ‘outside world’. www.worldfun.nl/pic/pic5.htm
What do wildlife rehabilitators want to achieve? • Recovery from illness/ injury • Release back into the wild • Survival in the wild – for how long? • Interaction with own species? • Contribution to the ‘gene pool’?
How do we know when wildlife rehabilitation is ‘successful’? • Some would argue that we don’t! Unless… • Wild animals can often be marked or tagged so that they can be studied after they have been released (‘post-release monitoring’). • This is expensive and time consuming - wildlife charities often cannot afford it on a regular basis. Photo courtesy of Simon Allen (Gower Bird Hospital)
What can rehabilitators do to make the process as successful as possible? • Return casualties to full health and fitness • Release into the appropriate environment e.g.: • Habitat type • Predation • Competition • Season and weather • ‘Man-made’ hazards
Should every animal that is rescued be released? What if the ‘ideal’ situation cannot be achieved? • What are the other options? • Permanent captivity • Euthanasia • Which option is best for animal welfare? • Which option is best for resource management (and therefore other casualties) for a charity?
The released animal may: carry an infectious disease be more vulnerable to diseases present in a new area be genetically different and possibly less well adapted to a new environment displace a resident animal of the same species The rehabilitator may: fail to ‘provide’ the animal with the necessary physical fitness/ learned skills to survive release the animal into an inhospitable release site release a non-native species which may damage the ecosystem What else can go wrong?
WHY do we rehabilitate wildlife casualties? • Compassion for animal suffering • Compensate for man-made hazards causing wildlife casualties • Developments in veterinary medicine • Species conservation (may be useful for endangered populations) • Research into understanding the biology and ecology of rehabilitated species Photo courtesy of Simon Allen (Gower Bird Hospital)
Summary • The aims of wildlife rehabilitation may include animal welfare and species conservation • Success should really by measured by what happens to the casualty after it has been released • Rehabilitators also have to deal with animals that cannot be released • After all the nursing and rehabilitation, releasing animals into the wild is a complicated process!