Protect or create habitat
Perhaps the greatest threat that faces wildlife is the widespread destruction of habitat. Scientists tell us the best way to protect wildlife is to protect the places where they live. Wildlife must have places to find food, shelter and raise their young. Logging, over-grazing and development can all impact on the places where wildlife live.
By protecting habitat, entire communities of animals and plants can be protected together. Parks, reserves and other open spaces should be protected near your community. Open space also provides us with great places to visit and enjoy. Support wildlife habitat and open space protection in your community.
There are a range of programs (eg. LandCare) and “Friends of” groups that provide practical projects for volunteers to help protect and repair our environment. For more information, visit LandCare or Parks Victoria or call Parks Victoria’s Volunteer Coordinator on 131 963.
You can also help wildlife by creating wildlife habitat on your own property. Planting local indigenous native trees such as eucalypts, shrubs such as grevilleas, callistemons (bottlebrushes) and banksias and native grasses will not only look good, but provide good habitat and healthy foods for a range of native species. You could also provide nesting boxes or hollow logs for birds and mammals, or install a bird bath or pond.
DEPI’s Land for Wildlife program is a great way to help protect wildlife habitat. See Land for Wildlife for more information.
Keep wildlife wild
Wildlife are very different to other animals. They have developed very specific and unique diets, behaviours and habitat needs over thousands of years that are very different to those of livestock and domestic pets. Wildlife are not pets and we need to be careful not to treat them as such. We should never try to feed, approach or handle wildlife as this can cause problems for the animals and us. In most situations, wild animals do not need people to survive.
For more information on way we shouldn’t feed, handle or disturb wildlife, see Let wildlife be wild
Sharing the road with wildlife
Unfortunately a great number of wildlife are killed on Victorian roads each year. You can help minimise this toll by being conscious of animal behaviour near road-sides and by following a few simple steps.
Firstly, you need to be aware that wildlife often cross our roads. Being aware of this and taking precautions when driving, especially in country areas, can save an animal’s life and avoid damage to your car or a serious accident. You should scan the road for wildlife as you drive, particularly at night but also during the day.
Different species of native animals have different behaviour patterns when approaching cars. It is best to allow the animal to move off the road before passing. Sadly, along roads that are bordered by steep banks, animals often find themselves trapped and unable to avoid being hit by on-coming traffic. To give them the best chance of survival, drive with particular care through these areas.
A common mistake people make in their thinking about wildlife is that it is okay to throw food from car windows, believing that it is harmless to wildlife that might eat it. Throwing any rubbish from car windows, including apple cores or other fruit scraps, can attract wildlife to roadsides. Wildlife will cross a road to eat food they can smell on the other side. Food and other rubbish thrown out of windows only increases the risk of road-kill.
What should I do if I hit an animal with my car?
If you do happen to hit an animal in your vehicle, please pullover if it’s safe to do so. The animal may be able to be treated or may need to be euthanased if the injuries are severe and it is suffering. If you think it can be saved, place the animal in a warm, dark place and transport it to the nearest Wildlife Shelter as soon as possible. If the animal is beyond help, it should be humanely destroyed to prevent further suffering. Never leave an injured animal without providing or obtaining some aid.
Further information information on what to do if you find a sick or injured native animals can be found on the wildlife rescue and rehabilitation section.
Responsible Pet OwnershipCats and dogs are wonderful companion animals. However, they are also very efficient predators of our native wildlife and kill and injure many wild creatures every year. A wide variety of native animals, ranging from the more common species like possums, kangaroos, wallabies, lizards and many species of bird, to rarer or threatened species such as bandicoots are at risk from domestic pets.
Even well fed and cared for cats and dogs instinctively hunt and chase. Unchecked dogs can harass and kill native animals such as kangaroos and koalas and cats will hunt and kill native birds, possums, frogs and lizards.
The responsibility for managing domestic animals rests with owners. By encouraging responsible pet ownership in your family and neighborhood we can continue to enjoy our pets and help native animals.
What can you do to help?
You can reduce the effects cats and dogs have on wildlife and better care for your pet by following a few simple rules:
- Keep your cat indoors.
Roaming cats do tremendous amounts of damage to local wildlife populations. Putting a bell on your cat can help although keeping it inside is the best thing you can do. Keeping your cat indoors will protect it from fights and reduces the risk of your cat being run over.
- Ensure your dog is kept under control at all times.
Put dogs on leashes in nature reserves or bush and keep your dog confined in the backyard, particularly when you’re not there. If you live in a flat, walk your dog daily and properly train your dog to respond to your commands.
- Never dump unwanted pets into the bush.
Besides the impact they have on native animals, unwanted pets may not survive and will suffer needlessly. Even returning native animals to the bush creates problems. Once native animals have been kept in captivity they may no longer know how to fend for themselves. There is also the risk that there may not be sufficient food and shelter for them because of other animals in the area. If you can no longer look after your pet, take the time to find them a happy new home, or take them to the RSPCA.
- Desex your pets.
Desexing can prevent unwanted litters of kittens or pups that contribute to stray and feral populations. Desexed pets are also less territorial and tend to wander less.
- Microchip your dog or cat.
Pets that are microchipped can be returned safely and quickly to their owners if they get lost and reduces the amount of time they can spend hunting native wildlife.
Minimising your pets' contact with wild creatures also decreases their chances of catching diseases and parasites, including rabies. It also prevents your pets from passing diseases to wild creatures as well.
For more information on responsible pet ownership, see Cats and wildlife.
Helping wildlife at riskVictoria’s threatened and endangered wildlife are in particular need of our help with species such as the Powerful Owl, Striped Legless Lizard and the Mountain Pygmy Possum are struggling to survive alongside humans. Currently, there are almost 200 animals (vertebrates) at risk of extinction in Victoria and the race is on to save them.
Government programs have brought some of these species, notably the Brush-tailed Rock-wallaby, Eastern Barred Bandicoots and Helmeted Honeyeaters back from the brink through captive breeding and reintroduction programs. But there still remains a lot of work to do.
You can help by becoming involved in or supporting a Recovery Team or helping to implement a Recovery Plan. These plans outline the causes of a species decline and what needs to be done to prevent that species from becoming extinct.
For more information on threatened wildlife in Victoria, visit the Threatened Species and Communities section.