Overview

Under Victorian emergency management arrangements, the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) is the lead agency for wildlife welfare arising from declared emergencies.  This covers a range of emergency events including fire, flood and storms.  Response triggers and actions vary on the type of emergency event and sometimes the location or the specific nature of the event itself.

With storms and floods, emergency response activities are targeted based on individual situations.  At all times human safety is the highest priority and no activity that may pose a risk to emergency services or members of the public will be undertaken.

Storms

During storm events it is common for wildlife to be displaced through being blown out of trees or having their shelter damaged (eg: falling trees).  In these situations, uninjured wildlife should be left alone as they are likely to be just fatigued and stressed.  In time they will recover and re-establish themselves in their habitat.  This is a normal process.  Capturing, transporting and handling these animals can lead to unnecessary stress and they are best left alone.

Individual wildlife that are injured can be reported to local wildlife carer, rescue group or Wildlife Victoria. The Help for Injured Wildlife Tool will help you locate and contact the closest relevant wildlife carers and rehabilitation organisations.

The capture of injured wildlife should only occur where it is safe to do so and wildlife rescuers and carers should ensure that the environment is safe to respond.  Improper rescue techniques by an untrained or inexperienced person can cause further distress or injury to the animal, as well as putting the rescuer at risk.

The directions of emergency services personnel should be followed at all times by members of the public, wildlife carers and rescuers.

Floods

High rainfall events and floods occur infrequently in Victoria.  The impact on the landscape is determined by a range of factors including the topography of the land, vegetation cover, pre-existing soil moisture and the duration and intensity of the rainfall event.
Wildlife can respond to flooding by moving out of the way of rising waters to higher ground, where they are able.  As per storm events, these animals are likely to be fatigued and stressed and should be left alone to recover if they are uninjured.

From time to time wildlife may be caught in trees or temporary islands as a result of flooding.  These animals will be able to survive for a number of days until flood waters reduce.  Approaching these animals in an attempt to relocate them has a high likelihood of resulting in further stress in the animal and place responders at risk.

Individual wildlife away from flood waters that are injured can be reported to local wildlife carer, rescue group or Wildlife Victoria.  
Individuals and wildlife carers and rescuers should not enter or go near flood waters to attempt to assist wildlife.  This is extremely dangerous and made lead to the loss of life.

DELWP’s role

During flood and storm events, DELWP will monitor wildlife impacts through the State and Regional emergency management teams and provide them factual information and key messages to be provided to impacted communities.

DELWP’s role in responding to wildlife welfare arising from storm events is limited and will be focused on targeted interventions where a large number of single species may be impacted, where defined high value areas such as nesting areas or the habitat of threatened species may be impacted.

Flood response activities are rare and will only be undertaken to address significant and immediate welfare impacts, where it is safe to do so.  These interventions will be focused on addressing the immediate suffering of individual or groups of animals.  Where wildlife are trapped on higher ground, their condition will be monitored.  If the welfare of these animals is significantly compromised (starving, emaciation, drowning) then an intervention will be considered.  It is essential that any intervention will not cause further stress and suffering.

DELWP will work with the local Incident Management Teams to ensure that wildlife and biodiversity considerations are considered during flood mitigation planning as well as relief and recovery planning.

Page last updated: 09/07/21