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Close up image of an echidna with an overlay stating ‘Backyard Biosecurity, it’s up to all of us’ and ‘Agriculture Victoria’

Image: Echidna (Credit: L. Clarke)

Edition 8: Wildlife
In this edition:

One of the special things about living on a small farm or acreage is the connection with our native wildlife. Being able to step outside to experience birds, frogs, lizards and a diverse range of other animals can be very rewarding. So let’s unpack what you can do to protect, support and live with our native wildlife, and protect yourself as well...

Supporting wildlife on your farm
Koala on a tree.

Image: Koala (Credit: State of Victoria, DEECA)

Wildlife is an integral part of our ecosystems. Not only do native animals help to keep our environment healthy, but they can also help out on your farm! From bees and other insects pollinating crops and veggie gardens to kookaburras and reptiles catching mice, ibis eating crickets, microbats preying on flying insects or songbirds snapping up caterpillars, wildlife do their bit to help your farm and garden flourish.

But wildlife needs your help too. Here are some ways you can support wildlife on your property, by looking after their habitat and ensuring they stay wild and healthy:


Brush-tailed possum on a nestbox installed in a tree.

Image: Brush-tailed Possum (Credit: A. Ashton)

One of the best ways to protect wildlife is to protect their habitat – the places that provide shelter, food and water:

  • Protect remnant habitat on your farm, including rocks, dead trees and fallen logs – valuable homes to wildlife, including bats, lizards and small mammals. Try to avoid disturbance to rocks, logs and woody debris – the spaces underneath provide shelters that protect animals from extremes outside.
  • Create new habitat by planting native species local to your area, including grasses, shrubs and trees. These not only look good but provide shelter and healthy foods for a range of native wildlife. Nest boxes can also be installed to create homes for hollow-dependent species.
  • Bird baths or other water sources are a great way to see and support wildlife in your garden. Put them at different heights to suit a variety of animals.

Keep Wildlife Wild

Seeing a native animal in the wild is something special. Don't forget that wild animals can be unpredictable and it's important to keep your distance, for your safety and theirs:

Whistling kite standing on a wooden post
  • Avoid disturbing wildlife – approaching too closely can cause stress to animals and disrupt resting, mating, feeding or caring for young.
  • If exposed to people too often, wildlife can lose their natural caution, which is essential to their survival in the wild.
  • Cats and dogs make great companions, but owners need to be aware their pets are also very efficient predators, killing and injuring many native animals every year. Always keep dogs on a lead around wild animals. Owners can face penalties if their pet chases, attacks or kills wildlife.

Image: Whistling Kite (Credit: Nick Talbot)

Rainbow Lorikeet
  • Sometimes wildlife may defend themselves and cause injury to you or your pets. Give them plenty of space, especially if they are fighting, courting or have young nearby. This includes snakes, which won’t actively try to hurt you but can be defensive if startled. If you encounter a snake, don’t panic, calmly move away, and maintain a safe distance while it moves on. Never try to pat or handle wild animals.
  • Some wildlife also carry diseases that can be transferred to people. If you find sick or injured wildlife, call a wildlife rescuer (see below for more information).


Image: Rainbow Lorikeet (Credit: L. Clarke)

Let Wildlife Feed Themselves

Please don't feed wildlife: their lives depend on it. While you may be trying to help, feeding can have unintended consequences:

Red wattlebird standing in eucalpytus tree.
  • Wild animals rarely, if ever, need to be fed by people. Human food may not be suitable for wildlife or their young.
  • Regular feeding can lead to large numbers of wild animals gathering and impacting habitat and homes. Congregating closer to homes can put wildlife at greater risk of harm from dogs, cats, foxes and vehicle collisions on roads. It can also lead to spreading of diseases.
  • Animals may become dependent on being fed by people and no longer be able to look after themselves. They may approach people looking for food, which can lead to injury.

Image: Red Wattlebird (© State of Victoria, DEECA. Credit: Amy Warnock)

Wildlife disease

Wildlife can be affected by a range of diseases. Some diseases are widely present across Victoria, while others require notification to DEECA or intervention to prevent further spread.

Find out more below about some common wildlife diseases, and what to do if you see something unusual.

Psittacine beak and feather disease

Beak and feather disease is a highly contagious viral disease that can affect all members of the Cockatoo and Parrot families. It weakens the birds and makes them susceptible to other infections. Signs of beak and feather disease include feather loss, baldness, inability to fly, and an overgrown beak.

How you can help

Don’t feed birds in your garden, as disease can spread between them when they gather to feed. If you find sick birds, it is important to get them to a vet or wildlife shelter (see below for more information).

Wombat mange

Wombat mange, also known as sarcoptic mange, is a skin infection caused by parasitic mites. These mites burrow under the skin to lay eggs – when they hatch they cause intense itching and discomfort. Mange symptoms start with fur loss before thick scabs and ridges develop that eventually crack and become open wounds. At later stages, mange can affect wombats’ eyes, causing blindness. Untreated, mange in wombats will lead to a slow and painful death.

How you can help

Mange Management Inc. is a not-for-profit organisation that specialises in treating mange in wombats. They can provide free treatment kits, advice on treatment options and can even connect you with trained volunteers to help treat wombats on your property.

For further information on mange and how to treat it, contact Mange Management Inc. at or on 0431 600 125, or visit

Chronic phalaris toxicity and kangaroos

Image: Eastern Grey Kangaroos (Credit: A. Smith)

The green flush of young phalaris grasses can be a welcome sight after a dry spell. But not for kangaroos. Young phalaris contains toxins that can cause a brain condition called chronic phalaris toxicity or ‘staggers’ in livestock and kangaroos. Staggers impairs movement. If kangaroos are unsteady, hopping in an exaggerated way, uncoordinated or falling over, they may have staggers.

How you can help

It’s difficult to prevent or treat staggers in wild kangaroos. Animals with mild symptoms may recover. Kangaroos with severely affected movement are more vulnerable to injury and predation. They can also be hit by cars or become trapped in fences. If you are worried about the health of kangaroos on your property, please contact a local wildlife rescuer (see below for more information) for assessment and possible veterinary attention. You can also report cases to DEECA’s Customer Contact Centre on 136 186.

Avian botulism

Waterbirds can sometimes die in large numbers. A common cause is botulism, caused by a toxin produced by the naturally occurring bacteria Clostridium botulinum. Avian botulism paralyses affected animals. Waterbirds might not be able to walk, swim or fly, and as the illness gets worse, birds can no longer hold their necks up. Eventually birds can’t breathe or they drown. Outbreaks happen when conditions are right for the bacteria – warm water, low oxygen and lots of decaying matter for the bacteria to feed on. Avian botulism spreads when animals consume infected maggots, or birds or fish that have died from the toxin.

How you can help

Botulism is not the only cause of mass bird deaths. Other diseases, contamination or suspicious activity can be involved. Please report dead birds on your property to DEECA’s all-hours Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888 so that animal disease can be ruled out. Reporting bird death events to DEECA is important so the cause can be identified and managed to minimise further harm to you, your animals and your local wildlife.

Reporting serious wildlife illness

Image: Kookaburra (Credit: K. Harris)

Some serious and exotic diseases of wildlife and livestock can have significant environmental, social and economic impacts. If landowners and vets suspect that an animal is infected with one of these ‘notifiable diseases’, they must notify Agriculture Victoria within a certain timeframe. Signs you could be witnessing in wildlife include:

  • High rate of death or sickness in animals
  • Unusual nervous signs such as tremors, uncharacteristic aggression or paralysis, including in bats
  • Multiple species are impacted.

To notify the authorities of a suspected notifiable disease, call DEECA’s all-hours Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888. For more information on notifiable diseases visit the Agriculture Victoria website.

Managing wildlife issues

Image: Brush-tailed possum (Credit: S. Peacock)

Wildlife can sometimes cause issues to property, farmland, the environment, or people, and the Wildlife Act 1975 recognises legal management options.

If wildlife is negatively impacting crops, pasture, infrastructure, human safety or biodiversity values, landowners can contact DEECA on 136 186 to get advice on ways to manage wildlife impacts. You can also apply to the Conservation Regulator for an Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) permit. For more information about ATCWs, visit:

Wildlife crime
Pacific black duck on water followed by 8 pacific black ducklings

Image: Pacific Black Ducks (Credit: I. Ashton)

In Victoria, all wildlife is protected by law, and it is illegal to harm, kill, scare, disturb or take native animals without authorisation.

The Conservation Regulator is responsible for investigating and prosecuting crimes involving native wildlife under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986.

If you find sick, injured or dead wildlife and suspect a wildlife crime has occurred, or believe a person has removed wildlife without authorisation to do so, you can report it to Crime Stoppers Victoria on 1800 333 000. Callers can remain anonymous.

Assisting sick or injured wildlife

Image: Blotched Blue-tongued Lizard (Credit: T. Lay)

Finding sick or injured wildlife can be a challenging experience. Here are some tips to get the wildlife assessed and the care it needs as soon as possible.

  • Firstly, contact a local rescuer, foster carer or shelter for assistance. To find a rescuer near you, call Wildlife Victoria’s 24-7 hotline on 8400 7300, or use DEECA’s Help for Injured Wildlife online tool.
  • While anyone can transport sick or injured wildlife, wildlife rescuers are experienced and trained to help. Sick or injured wildlife from the wild must only be taken to a veterinarian, a wildlife shelter or foster carer, to be assessed and/or rehabilitated.
  • Don’t approach or move the wildlife as it is likely to be stressed and it could injure you or be further injured. Remember the animal is wild and may feel stressed or threatened by your presence - stay calm, speak softly, move slowly and keep any pets away to avoid stress to the animal.
  • It is illegal to take or keep wildlife from the wild as pets and you cannot take the animal home with you. Taking wildlife from the wild without permission is an offence under the Wildlife Act 1975.
  • Remember, never handle bats as they can carry serious diseases. If you find a sick or injured microbat or flying-fox, do not touch it – call a trained and vaccinated rescuer instead.

Keep an eye out for the next email where we’ll look at managing the health and welfare of sheep.

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Agriculture Victoria

Further information

Want to know more about supporting healthy wildlife on your farm? These resources can help:

Contacting Agriculture Victoria

Call 136 186 from anywhere in Australia for the cost of a local call (except for mobiles and public telephones).

If you are deaf, or have a hearing or speech impairment contact the National Relay Service on 133 677 or

All contact points can be found at:

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