Wildlife Emergency Support Network's purpose

The purpose of the Wildlife Emergency Support Network (WESN) is to improve wildlife welfare outcomes through the development of a network of trained and accredited individuals from across the veterinary and wildlife welfare sectors who can be deployed as part of wildlife emergency response activities for bushfire and extreme heat events.

Image: Zoos Victoria

WESN background

Under the Emergency Management Act 2013 (EM Act) and the State Emergency Management Plan (SEMP), the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action (DEECA) is the lead agency for responding to wildlife welfare arising from a declared emergency, including bushfire and extreme heat events.

DEECA's approach to managing injured wildlife during emergencies is to, while maintaining human safety, minimise harm and suffering and ensure that animals are treated humanely. Critical to the successful implementation of the response arrangements are partnerships across agencies and with non-government organisations, communities and individuals.

The WESN was established to assist during emergency response activities for bushfire events where wildlife is impacted. It brings together non-government organisations, wildlife rescuers, rehabilitators and wildlife transporters, general practice veterinarians and veterinary nurses, wildlife veterinarians and veterinary nurses and zookeepers.

The WESN is a partnership for the targeted recruitment, training, accreditation and pre deployment coordination of veterinary services and wildlife rehabilitator or rescue volunteers, who can assist DEECA in undertaking response activities when requested.

The WESN assists with the supply of trained and accredited veterinary professionals and volunteers to be deployed into defined wildlife emergency roles at the request of DEECA, including:

  • Veterinarians (field or triage unit based)
  • Veterinary nurses
  • Triage assistants
  • Wildlife volunteers (wildlife rehabilitators, rescuers or transporters).

Coordination of the WESN

Following an expression of interest process in November 2022, DEECA appointed Zoos Victoria to coordinate the WESN. For further information, please contact WESN@zoo.org.au.

Nominations for the Wildlife Emergency Support Network for the 2023/24 fire season are now closed. Nominations for the 2024/25 fire season will open in April 2024.  Please refer to this webpage for information updates.

Proposed WESN timeline 2023

Ahead of the next bushfire season, the wildlife welfare sector was invited to submit expressions of interest to be trained as a WESN member. The following activities will be undertaken to strengthen and prepare the WESN for future fire emergencies to help wildlife impacted by fire.

Related information

Page last updated: 14/08/23