FAWNA propose a South West wildlife hospital and eco tourism park

A South West regional wildlife hospital and eco tourism park has been proposed by Fostering and Assistance for Wildlife Needing Aid (FAWNA).

Currently, there is no dedicated facility to treat injured or sick wildlife in the region.

Wildlife which require treatment are taken to vets who provide care for the animals, often without being paid for their service.

When vets are unable to provide care because they do not have specialised skills to treat wildlife or they are overloaded, an animal is transported to Perth by car where it is cared for at a facility located in Cockburn.

To help fill the gap, FAWNA conducted a feasibility study to investigate the viability of establishing a wildlife hospital and eco-tourism park on a rehabilitated mine site in Capel.

The proposed Kaatijinup Biodiversity Park would be a not-for-profit, social enterprise operating as a wildlife hospital, research and training centre.

The park would include a nature-based wildlife experience, campground, luxury eco-camp, and passive recreation facility on 319 hectares of rehabilitated woodland, wetland, grassland, bush and open plains.

The need for the project is based on a steady increase of at-risk endemic wildlife with an estimated cost ranging from $6.7 million to $22.1 million

FAWNA president Suzanne Strapp said vets in the South West have been generous in both time and in-kind financial support of FAWNA's activities.

"Over recent years the business demands on vets have resulted in less than ideal management of wildlife and an increasing number of vets either charging for their service, x-rays and medicines," she said.

"During peak times vets have had to turn away wildlife. The burden on vets and FAWNA members is onerous and at peak times unbearable.

"The existing resources for the rescue, rehabilitation and release of wildlife in the southwest WA are inadequate and unsustainable.

"The number of injured or ill wildlife has increased exponentially with the huge number of tourists and homes being let out to tourists as short stay accommodation."

Busselton Vet Hospital doctor Kerri Jurgens attended to an injured critically endangered western ringtail possum on Sunday.

Busselton Vet Hospital doctor Kerri Jurgens attended to an injured critically endangered western ringtail possum on Sunday.

Ms Strapp said on Sunday FAWNA had five severely injured critically endangered western ringtail possums in their care: three had been hit by a car, one had burnt feet and another had a broken leg which required urgent vet treatment.

"Vets from the Dunsborough and Busselton Vet Hospitals came in to work just to take care of the injured animals," she said.

"Vets are not reimbursed by the government at all - they are morally obliged to assist with wildlife.

"There is no other private small businesses expected to give away professional services for free. This would be acceptable if if it was a rare event but it the numbers of wildlife are becoming unmanageable."

Ms Strapp said their volunteer work force required a wildlife specific veterinary service and hospital and paid volunteer coordinators and wildlife advisers.

"This would provide appropriate and timely care for wildlife to facilitate maximum opportunity for rehabilitation and a wild release.

The Environment Minister Stephen Dawson, who visited FAWNA's Possum Finishing School last year, has shown support for the project and instructed the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) to work with FAWNA on their proposal.

Mr Dawson said the McGowan Government valued the vital work of wildlife rehabilitators, with many going above and beyond to provide a high standard of care to some of Western Australia's most vulnerable wildlife.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson visited FAWNA in September last year to present the wildlife carers $10,000 from the Lotterywest COVID-19 relief fund.

Environment Minister Stephen Dawson visited FAWNA in September last year to present the wildlife carers $10,000 from the Lotterywest COVID-19 relief fund.

"FAWNA is a fantastic community volunteer wildlife rescue and rehabilitation group and I thank its members for all the great work they do in the southwest of the state."

A DBCA spokesperson said their department had a strong relationship with a number of local wildlife carers in the region, including FAWNA.

The spokesperson said DBCA supported individual wildlife rehabilitators and groups by providing advice and assistance in accessing specialist care.

This story FAWNA propose establishing a wildlife hospital and eco-tourism park in Capel first appeared on Busselton-Dunsborough Mail.