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Cars and animals - caring for our wildlife

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary owner, Greg Irons shares his tips on caring for injured or orphaned animals and how to be prepared.

If you think you are about to collide with an animal:

- Stay in your lane and gradually slow down

- Do not swerve or slam on the breaks

If you think you have collided with an animal:

- If it is safe to do so, pull over to the side of the road to assess the situation

- Call Bonorong Wildlife Rescue for advice available 24/7: 0447 264 625

But regardless of how the animal came to be injured or orphaned, there are a few key items that you can keep in your car to speed up their rescue and recovery. 

1. Mobile Phone

This may seem redundant - who doesn’t have a mobile phone with them these days? - but there is one thing you can do right now to make your mobile so much more useful in the event of a wildlife emergency - and that’s add our number to it! 

By saving our rescue number in your phone (or the number of you're local wildlife rescue if your not based in Tasmania), you eliminate the stress and save time in an emergency. So grab your phone and add this number to your contacts: 0447 264 625. Bonorong Wildlife Rescue is available 24/7 for wildlife emergencies or advice Tasmania-wide or the number of your local wildlife rescue if you're not based in Tasmania.

2. Safety Vest

Before you do anything, it's important to remember that your safety always comes first. And that includes pulling over to assist: only pull over when or if it is safe to do so. A safety vest is the next step. Found at most hardware stores, they will keep you visible while moving out of and around your car. If you have found a safe spot on the side of the road, be sure to put on your safety vest before, or immediately after exiting your vehicle.

3. Gloves

There are two types of gloves we recommend here. You can pick up a pack of latex gloves at your local supermarket, and they’ll protect both you and the animal. We also recommend keeping a pair of gardening gloves in the car as well - these can provide you with a bit of extra protection at times where you can’t avoid an animals sharp claws. 

4. Torch and/or head torch

Most animal incidents happen at night, and a torch is much more versatile than your car headlights. A head torch is extremely useful as it allows you to use both of your hands while still shining light in the right direction.

5. Hessian Sack

Usually stocked at pet stores, you may recognise these as perfect dog beds - but they are also invaluable when dealing with our larger wildlife. The largest size available is perfect for transporting pademelons, wallabies and more. They block out the activity around them while letting them breathe comfortably. Our rescue team can provide advice on how to safely get an injured animal into a sack at the time.

6. Pillowcase & Beanie

These two go hand in hand when it comes to orphans. Even if the mother has passed away, she may still be carrying precious cargo: a joey. And we often forget that a joey means any animal that lives in a pouch - possums, pademelons, quolls, devils and more - most of our mammals in Tassie have pouches, so it's important not to overlook them. Our rescue team can advise how to check for pouch young, but if you do find an orphan, they need to be kept warm. A pillowcase turned inside out (to prevent the joeys trying to suckle on stray threads) and tucked inside a beanie is a perfect makeshift pouch. This can be popped down your top (for both warmth and a reassuring heartbeat) until the joey can get to a carer. 

Note: It’s important never to feed an orphan if you find one - no matter how hungry they look!

Want to be extra prepared?

At Bonorong we run free Wildlife Rescue Training. If you’d like to be even more prepared, our training will take you through the basics of animal rescue, including how to prepare a fully stocked rescue kit. Our training runs regularly, and you can find out more and register for the training on our website www.bonorong.com.au/become-a-wildlife-rescuer/. Everyone who completes the training also has the option of becoming a registered wildlife rescuer with Bonorong.