Wildlife funds dry up

Manfred is pictured with a joey that was injured in the 2013 Wollert fires. Hopping in pain on burnt feet, it was darted to enable emergency veterinary treatment.

Manfred is pictured with a joey that was injured in the 2013 Wollert fires. Hopping in pain on burnt feet, it was darted to enable emergency veterinary treatment.

Volunteer wildlife carers have been left to shoulder the cost of darting rescue animals as Wildlife Victoria funds reach their limit.

Lack of state government support has put rescuers in a tough situation and out of pocket, says Macedon Ranges and Hepburn based wildlife carer Manfred Zabinskas.

"I am now in the position of having to cover the expenses of darting rescues myself, as I am not prepared to just let these animals suffer," he said.

"The thought that kangaroos and their joeys who need our help may be left to die horrible deaths is unbearable.

"Incredibly, the state government currently takes no responsibility for the cost nor provision of this essential service and has mostly relied upon a charity and volunteers to undertake and fund this specialised and necessary work."

Darting rescues include kangaroos and wallabies that have been hit by vehicles, are loose on roads, attacked by dogs, trapped in shopping centres, buildings and backyards and victims of cruelty, as well as escaped orphaned joeys.

Wildlife Victoria estimates its annual cost for kangaroo darting rescues has risen to more than $80,000 with demand for the service increasing by more than 60 per cent over the past five years, signifying a need for outside funding.

The independent not-for-profit organisation said it stopped employing specialist darters due to the lack of clear government department guidelines covering the darting of kangaroos as well as the growing cost.

Wildlife Victoria indicated last month it had to withdraw financial support for dart rescues to prepare for summer bushfire disasters.

"The threat of bushfires in Victoria means we will have a surge in demand for our services," Wildlife Victoria's Ron Burke said.

"We have had to reduce some services now to ensure we have the funds to meet any emergencies over the summer and through the bushfire season.

"We have been told there are no government funds available to assist with kangaroo darting and similar services. We will need to rely on sponsorship and public fundraising to continue to meet the ongoing cost of our services."

A spokesperson for the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said the Victorian Government provided funding support to licensed wildlife rehabilitators through an annual Wildlife Rehabilitator Grant Program.

However, costs associated with drugs used for sedation and the purchase of firearms or a firearms license are not covered under the program.

"The aim of the grants is to help our volunteer wildlife shelter operators and carers recoup some of their out of pocket expenses

incurred during their wildlife rehabilitation work," they said.

Items that are covered include veterinary fees, milk formula, feed, enclosures, infrastructure and equipment including personal protective equipment.

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