Wildlife carers to be hit with licence fee

Collie wildlife carer Wendy Thompson with one of the three kangaroos she is currently caring for. Photo: Ashley Bolt
Collie wildlife carer Wendy Thompson with one of the three kangaroos she is currently caring for. Photo: Ashley Bolt

The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions has signalled it will wait 12 months and undergo further consultation before introducing a licence fee to wildlife carers.

Regulation changes, which came into effect on January 1, stated people who possess native fauna for the purpose of rehabilitation for more than 72 hours require a fauna possessing licence.

The licence attracted a fee of $250, with a renewal set to cost $110.

The move to regulate the industry was welcomed by leading South West carers, but some disagreed with the decision to charge volunteers and not-for-profits for the licence.

Local wildlife carer Wendy Thompson said charging volunteers a licence fee was ‘punishing’ them for the work they do.

“Most of us haven’t done anything wrong, but we’re being punished by having to pay for a license,” she said.

“It’s already expensive to look after the animals when you look at the cost of milk and equipment and vet bills, we shouldn’t have to pay another $250.”

She said she would find it more difficult to care for the dozens of animals that come through her doors each year if the fees were introduced.

Ms Thompson also said there was a general lack of certainty around licencing within the wildlife carer community.

A department spokesperson said the DBCA established a working group to facilitate consultation on whether licences should be introduced and if so, whether a fee should apply. 

The group found a fee should be applied in order to achieve high quality animal welfare outcomes for fauna.

However, the spokesperson said given the extremely valuable service wildlife rehabilitators provide, DBCA would review the appropriateness of the fee.

FAWNA wildlife rescue president Suzi Strapp was apart of the consultation and applauded the changes.

As FAWNA is a not-for-profit group, the organisation faces a reduced fee compared to that of the independent carers.

The licence fee for a not-for-profit organisation is $120.

“These regulations encourage carers to become members of organised groups, with boards and standards of care, so that people can be supported, trained, and comply to minimum basic care standards for wildlife with correct knowledge about coordinated releases. We are stronger together,” Ms Strapp said.

“This decision has been made to achieve the best outcome for wildlife, not for the independent carers.

“Up until this point, any Australian could care for a sick or injured animal, without any qualification and they didn’t have to tell anyone.”