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Wildlife shelters and foster carers

Wildlife shelters and foster carers help rehabilitate injured and orphaned wildlife so animals can be released back to the wild.

Wildlife rehabilitation is rewarding, but can be physically and emotionally demanding. It requires a range of skills, including:

  • safely capturing and handling distressed wildlife
  • administering first aid and, in exceptional circumstances, performing euthanasia
  • providing appropriate food and enclosures

All this must be done in a way that doesn't stress the animals and maintains their natural behaviours to allow a successful life in the wild after release.

Roles available

Wildlife Shelter Operator Authorisations

Wildlife shelter operators are experienced wildlife carers who have the expertise and facilities to house a range of wildlife in need of care, including those with complex requirements.

Foster Carer Authorisations

This role is for anyone interested in learning about wildlife rehabilitation. Foster Carers are authorised under Wildlife Shelter Operators so that people new to wildlife rehabilitation can gain experience and guidance in the care and treatment of native wildlife.

Interested in becoming a wildlife volunteer?

We recommend that you volunteer with an experienced authorised shelter before applying for a Foster Carer Authorisation.

Contact one of the rehabilitation organisations listed on help for injured wildlife if you are interested in volunteering your services.

Alternatively you can download and complete the foster carer or wildlife shelter application form:

Wildlife shelter and foster carers authorisation guide

Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisations are subject to strict conditions to protect the welfare of wildlife undergoing rehabilitation.

Download the guidelines 

If you have feedback on the guide, email wildlife.licensing@delwp.vic.gov.au

Keeping wildlife shelter records

An important aspect of wildlife rehabilitation is the keeping of accurate records of all wildlife in care. It is a condition of all Wildlife Shelter Authorisations that operators keep accurate and up-to-date records of wildlife admissions, including those being cared for by foster carers.

Records provide valuable case history and are an important resource for other rehabilitators. Record statistics can also be used to determine:

  • why animals are brought to shelters
  • the species involved
  • where they came from
  • the outcomes of rehabilitation

They also help to ensure animals don't enter the trade system and are not used for illegal purposes.

If you would like to complete records electronically, please use the following template.

Keeping record sheets

It is no longer a requirement to submit records annually. Instead, it is a condition of your authorisation that the records are kept for a 3 year period and must be made available for inspection by a Wildlife Officer without delay.

For more information, contact our Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.

How to complete your record sheet

The following table explains the information to be entered in each box on the record sheet. Refer also to the attached Wildlife Code Book and the Species Code above when completing your record sheet.

  CASE NUMBER Enter consecutive numbers to give each admission an identifying case number. You may choose to use the year and a 3 digit number, e.g. 16/001. This is up to you.  
COMMON NAME Every animal should be identified by both its accepted common name as provided in the Wildlife Code Book and the Species code. If however, despite your best efforts at identification you are still unsure of full species name use ‘sp’, e.g. small bat sp. or wattlebird sp. and leave the Species Code blank.
SPECIES CODE Enter the species code as provided in the Wildlife Code Book, e.g. 142.
DATE IN Enter the date the animal was admitted to the shelter, e.g. 12/3/16.
SEX Where possible, identify the sex of the animal and enter a code (M = Male or F = Female). If unable to determine the sex of the animal, use the code U.
AGE There are separate age codes for birds, mammals,  reptiles and amphibians (see code sheet). Use only one of the age class codes provided (single letter code). If the animal has young, record only the age of the parent animal.
INJURY Use only one of the codes which best describes the major injury that the animal has sustained. If an animal is presented with more than one type of injury, use a single letter code which represents the most serious injury (see code sheet).
CAUSE This code describes what has caused the injury. Use the code which most clearly describes the cause of the injuries to the best of your knowledge. Use only one of the double letter codes (see code sheet).
FOUND It is important to record the location of where the animal was found. Include GPS coordinates or a Melways map reference number where possible so that the animal can be released where it was found.
DATE OUT Enter the date the animal was released from the shelter or the date of death, e.g. 12/3/16.
STATUS This code indicates the fate of the animal. These codes are grouped into three broad categories – died, transferred or released. Depending on the nature of disposal, use the code that best describes the fate of the individual. Do not complete the disposals section of your record sheet for animals being held by your foster-carers until the animal has been permanently disposed of as detailed above. Use only one double letter code (see code sheet).
NOTES For animals released to the wild, information describing and detailing the release location (including the postcode) should be entered into this section.

Reviewed 26 April 2021

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