Things to Avoid

Things to Avoid

While there are important factors to adhere to when administering care to displaced and uninjured wildlife, it is just as vital to understand the risk factors involved and what to avoid.

About these guidelines

It is vital that any help provided does not jeopardise natural recovery and feeding is phased out as soon as natural recovery begins.

These guidelines are a summary of a coordinated effort from various state and national organisations including the Tasmanian Department of Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment (DPIPWE), NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and Wildlife Health Australia (WHA) to provide information on caring for distressed native wildlife in an emergency, such as prolonged drought, or after fire or flood.

These guidelines were developed with input from ecologists, wildlife veterinarians, wildlife nutritionists and rehabilitators and will be updated as new information becomes available.

Prior to providing food for wildlife, take all necessary steps to minimise the risks outlined.

What to avoid when assisting animals in distress

  • Do not add electrolytes, “rehydration solutions” or sugar to water sources as they can be harmful to wildlife
  • Do not feed wildlife mixtures of peanut butter, honey and rolled oats (known as bait or wildlife balls typically used to attract animals) as they are harmful to some animals
  • Never feed raw meat, cooked bones, bread, baked goods, rice, onion/garlic, banana, honey, molasses, sugar, avocado, chocolate, dairy products, or processed foods with artificial sweeteners as they can be harmful or even toxic in some species
  • Do not offer unsterilized hays or seeded grasses, fruits or vegetables in bushland areas. Non-native species (some common in hays and poor quality bird seed mixes), can outcompete native plants and destroy bushland
  • Do not scatter feed (ie. bird seeds, pellets etc) directly on the ground as this increases risk of disease and attracts unwanted pests
  • Avoid providing food where and how feral animal populations may benefit, particularly pigs, goats and deer.  These species can aggressively dominate food stations and threaten the recovery of native species. Feral scan provides information on regional distribution of these species

Suitable foods guide

You can also read more about which foods are suitable for supplementary feeding of uninjured wild animals where disaster has temporarily eliminated their food supply.

View the guide.

  • Most wildlife is not accustomed to being handled and can become very stressed. Do not feed rescued injured or sick animals or attempt to handle them yourself. They should be transported to a veterinarian or wildlife rehabilitator as soon as possible.  If you find an injured animal, and it is safe to do so, contain it in a covered box in a dark, quiet place while waiting for a rescuer or until transporting the animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator or veterinarian
  • Firegrounds are extremely dangerous. Public is urged not to enter firegrounds to look for injured wildlife. 


View additional resources

How you can help


Read more about how you can help wildlife in need.

Suitable foods guide


Check which foods are suitable for feeding uninjured wildlife.