Vets carry wildlife-care cost burden

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Veterinary clinics across the Rockingham area are footing the bill for caring for sick and injured wildlife and are asking for some sort of government assistance to provide medical treatment.
Camera IconVeterinary clinics across the Rockingham area are footing the bill for caring for sick and injured wildlife and are asking for some sort of government assistance to provide medical treatment. Credit: Stock image.

Veterinary clinics across the Rockingham area are footing the bill for caring for sick and injured wildlife and are asking for some sort of government assistance to provide medical treatment.

Baldivis Vet Hospital’s Kylie Sloanes said on average, the clinic would treat1000-1500 species of wildlife a year.

“We average from two to five species of wildlife a day; birds, joeys, possums, blue-tongues, skinks — you name it, we have seen it,” she said. Ms Sloanes said the cost for caring for wildlife could range from $30 for antibiotics to $700 for radiology and fracture repairs for each animal.

“On average, with medications, disposables and staff time, we would easily spend tens of thousands of dollars,” she said.

But despite the cost, no government funding was offered or available to help pay the costs of caring for native animals, she said.

“It would be great if there were funding and support from the Government so we could do more for our wildlife and surrendered or stray animals,” Ms Sloanes said.

“However, most vet hospitals accept that it’s part of being a vet that we happily take on the responsibility of caring for wildlife for our community.”

Rockingham Veterinary Clinic manager and registered veterinary nurse Wendy Braddow said on average, the clinic would see a native animal at least once every second day. The clinic works closely with Seabird Rescue and Naragebup Wildlife and regularly does radiographs and treats wildlife in their care. Although the clinic does not keep regular records of the medication costs for wildlife, Ms Braddow said expenses would reflect largely in terms of the staff’s time to care for and perform surgeries and procedures.

“If that was billed out appropriately, it would be significant,” she said.

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions said it did not provide direct funding to individual veterinary surgeons for native wildlife treatment or care, and charges applied for this service were “a matter for each practice to determine”.

Ms Sloanes said if veterinarians were not willing to take injured or sick wildlife in, there “would be a lot more strain on the rescuers”.

However, she said most vets took on the cost of treatment to ensure wildlife was cared for and could survive, regardless of what it may cost clinics.

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