Wildlife Casualties

Taking a Wildlife Casualty to a Vet

*The information is kindly sourced with thanks to Irish Wildlife Matters

Information for the General Public:

Rehabilitation of wildlife casualties requires a licence and a large investment of time and resources. It is mainly in the animal’s best interest to transfer it to an appropriately trained and equipped individual/organisation as soon as possible.

Before attempting to capture a wildlife casualty:

  • Observe, assess, discuss, then decide whether intervention is appropriate
  • All wild animals can potentially transmit disease and inflict serious injuries
  • Remember, your own safety is of paramount importance

If you come across a wild animal that you feel needs rescuing, you need to decide whether to call a vet or a wildlife rehabber. In most cases we recommend calling a rehabber first for advice as the ones on the contacts page of this website all have a genuine interest in wildlife so will make the time to listen to your query, and under ‘specialisation’ will have details of the species they have most experience with so you can be sure of good advice. 

However if the animal is completely collapsed and unresponsive, has an obvious injury e.g. bone sticking out of a limb/wing, or is bleeding profusely; then it needs to be taken to a vet immediately for emergency medical treatment.

Decided to go to the vet

If you’ve made the decision to take the casualty to a vet these are a few considerations:

At the soonest opportunity; call a rehabber to make sure someone is willing to take the animal for long term rehabilitation (if it survives)

Veterinary duty of care

All vets are obliged to ‘relieve pain or suffering’. Be aware though that this obligation can be satisfied by euthanasia - putting the animal to sleep.

Legal situation

  • Vets are not obliged to treat wildlife for free. Many of them kindly do so; and absorb the cost of their time and materials themselves.
  • Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland encourages vets to only charge cost price for treating wildlife.

Everything has a price
When you visit a vet you will sometimes be charged a consultation fee and anything that needs to be done for the animal is added onto this. Additional costs include the expense of any medications, dressings, bandages, anaesthetics, x-rays, laboratory tests and if needs be; hospitalisation. The expense of treatment also depends upon the size of the animal; small birds would be cheaper than a large mammal. During the consultation most vets are happy to give as accurate an estimate of cost as they can; don’t be embarrassed; ask for a quote!

Out of hours
If possible, call the vet clinic to arrange an appointment before arriving on their doorstep so they can be ready for your arrival. Call-outs outside standard practice hours or on bank holidays usually cost you more. This additional cost can result in you paying up to five times what you generally would pay at any other time.

Shop around
Prices vary from one vet clinic to another. There is no regulation on what fees vets charge and for that reason, it is best to shop around.

‘Fail to prepare; prepare to fail’ - Preparation is Key!
If you come across injured wildlife on a semi regular basis, or if you are the type of person who will rescue an animal if you find it, we STRONGLY recommend you arrange a meeting with your vet to find out if they have an interest in wildlife, and if not, try and find one who does. Knowing you have a reliable, reasonably priced vet to call in an emergency can give you peace of mind to go ahead and rescue a wildlife casualty if you come across one.

*Our thanks to Irish Wildlife Matters for this useful advice for our clients and the general public.