The wildlife situation in Ireland is unusual and unfortunate in so far as there is no single organisation representing all types of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation. There are various individuals and a few organisations around the country that either rescue specific species or rehabilitate whatever casualties come their way. These individuals receive no financial support and had no support network among themselves.
There was therefore a great need and opportunity to develop a more coordinated approach to, and a higher profile for wildlife and wildlife rehabilitation in Ireland.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland was established to do just this, and has to date, implemented the following:
WRI has developed a website which offers rehabilitation guidelines, standardised wildlife casualty and volunteer forms for rehabilitation establishments, wildlife career options, publications and further education - all of which aim to facilitate individuals actively involved in rehabilitation and/or conservation.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland's website can be accessed at www.wri.ie
WRI produced the wildlife first aid website ‘Irish Wildlife Matters’ (IWM) which was launched in May 2010. Its purpose is to address the lack of easily accessible information on Irish wildlife rescue and first aid. IWM provides an easily accessible, online overview of the rescue methods, medical treatment, rehabilitation and release procedures for the most common seen species of Irish wildlife casualties.
Irish Wildlife Matters website can be accessed at www.irishwildlifematters.ie
In 2010 WRI ran the first Wildlife Rehabilitation Conference in Ireland. The conference brought together speakers from countries more advanced in their wildlife management for talks and practical sessions to teach a wide audience about the practicalities of wildlife treatment and rehabilitation. The Conference generated huge interest and positive feedback.
Following the success of the 2010 conference WRI hosted a wildlife conference in 2011, 2012, and an even more popular Wildlife Crime Conference in 2013 and 2015.
You can view an archive of past Conferences at www.wri.ie/pages/conf-archive.html
The inaugural 2013 Wildlife Crime Conference was convened to discuss wildlife crime in a comprehensive all-island context and, as a result, proved to be a historic milestone in Irish wildlife protection. It provided a unique opportunity for government agencies, NGOs, professional bodies, voluntary groups and individuals to share their experience and expertise in this field. The conference was enthusiastically received by all sectors of wildlife protection in Ireland.
In September 2015 WRI hosted the second Irish Wildlife Crime Conference.
We believe that wildlife protection throughout Ireland can be most effectively implemented through collaboration, communication and cooperation at all levels. The 2015 Wildlife Crime Conference consolidated and enhanced the effective and cordial working partnerships established to date.
2015 Wildlife Crime Conference details can be found at this link www.wri.ie/conference
The International Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (IWRC) is the leading developer of professional training for wildlife care providers in North America and internationally. In 2011 the IWRC teamed up with Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland to provide a unique opportunity for Irish people to participate in the IWRC’s Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Course. The two day training course concentrated specifically on the theory and practice of wildlife rehabilitation.
The 2011 Course was so successful that we wanted to offer it on a regular basis in Ireland so with the IWRC’s assistance we now have an Irish IWRC Instructor. Since 2011 WRI have run these Courses on a regular basis throughout the years. Places on the Course are highly sought after, which is a great indication of the level of interest in wildlife in this country.
The Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Course details can be accessed at www.wri.ie/wildlife-course
Hundreds of rehabilitated wildlife casualties and orphans are released back to the wild each year. Release is often considered to be the measure of success and yet very little is known about the post-release survival of rehabilitated wildlife.
This pine marten project in June 2012 was to monitor the post-release survival of two rehabilitated pine martens. This was Ireland’s first ever post-release monitoring project of a rehabilitated wildlife species using radio telemetry. The project was a huge success and generated lots of media interest.
The pine marten project is on WRI’s website at www.wri.ie/pages/News-pinemarten.html
In autumn 2012 WRI facilitated the return and soft release of an Irish otter that was rehabilitated in Scotland at the International Otter Survival Fund’s (IOSF) facilities on the Isle of Skye.
The otter cub was found as an orphan in Co Donegal and there was no rehabilitation facility in Ireland that had otter cubs undergoing rehabilitation at that time. The tremendous effort, dedication and co-ordination of people and organisations both in Ireland and Scotland led to the otter being successfully released back into the wild in a remote location in Glenveagh National Park, Co Donegal.
Shannon’s story is on WRI’s website at www.wri.ie/pages/News-otter.html
A testament to the beneficial effect of the Wildlife Rehabilitation Conferences is the enthusiasm and inspiration they generate in people. Dan is one example of this; he is a wildlife rehabilitator from Kildare who approached WRI in 2013 for assistance with a post release monitoring project proposal. Dan frequently takes in swans for rehabilitation and wanted to monitor their progress after their release. The swans are mainly from the locality and there are many dedicated local ornithologists willing to look out for, and report swan sightings.
With assistance and cooperation from Birdwatch Ireland, WRI assisted Dan in his tagging initiative. He now has a registered bird ringer who comes and visits his facility to tag each swan before it is released. Dan has also been offered the opportunity to train as a bird ringer with this qualified ringer.
In 2013 WRI carried out the first Irish Wildlife Health Survey with the help of veterinary practices throughout Ireland. The survey formed part of ongoing research into wildlife health, in conjunction with academic institutions and voluntary organisations, and provided significant data to allow for a better picture of any emerging infectious diseases which could have potential disastrous consequences for animal production and wildlife in Ireland.
In June 2014 the survey was published in the Veterinary Ireland Journal, a link can be found from WRI’s website at www.wri.ie/pages/data.html
Additionally in 2013, WRI conducted the first survey amongst wildlife rehabilitators in Ireland to ascertain the quantity of casualties they have cared for, the conditions they suffered from, and the outcome of these cases.
This survey data, in conjunction with the Wildlife Health Survey data from the veterinary profession, provided the first detailed information available on wildlife casualties in Ireland. The figures backed up WRI assertions that the numbers of wildlife casualties rehabilitated is far higher than figures obtained by the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS), which in turn has initiated talks between WRI and the NPWS regarding a pilot ‘Annual Rehabilitation Licence’ project.
In October 2015 WRI delivered a teaching session on wildlife rescue and first aid to sixty veterinary students. This was the first time that wildlife has featured in the veterinary curriculum in University College Dublin, and it now looks set to become a permanent part of the exotics module of the curriculum. Details can be found on WRI’s website at www.wri.ie/pages/News-ucd.html
WRI aims to build on accomplishments to date, and progress onto other new and exciting ventures, a selection of which are listed here:
WRI runs the IWRC's Basic Wildlife Rehabilitation Course on a regular basis, and still demand exceeds supply for wildlife education courses.
The IWRC also offer other wildlife courses and WRI hopes to additionally deliver the IWRC’s pain and wound management, and parasitology course.
WRI have set aside funds to assist individuals who want to attend the IWRC Course but are prevented by financial constraints.
Additionally, WRI are responding to requests by wildlife rehabilitators for further training by experts in the field of wildlife rehabilitation by collaborating with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA) to offer Irish rehabilitators the opportunity to gain work experience in one of the RSPCA’s dedicated Wildlife Centres in the UK.
The welfare of rehabilitated animals is compromised if they do not have the skills required to survive in the wild once they have been released. WRI would like to facilitate post release monitoring projects to provide research based evidence to support the value of wildlife rehabilitation and learn more about each species at the same time. To this end WRI has purchased a cage and trailer, and is happy to assist anyone looking for help with such projects.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland’s Vision
National Wildlife Rehabilitation & Teaching Hospital
As the public profile of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation rises, so too does the number of wildlife casualties brought to small independent wildlife centres. There is now extreme financial pressure on these individuals given increased demands on increasingly inadequate resources.
The combination of circumstances demands the establishment of a self- sustaining dedicated Wildlife Rehabilitation and Teaching Hospital in order to offer Irish wildlife and Irish people the opportunity to mutually benefit from a solution to this currently unsustainable situation.
Wildlife Rehabilitation Ireland is seeking a suitable site to locate this Hospital, and partners who wish to become involved in this new and innovative social partnership project.
WRI believes that welfare and conservation are of limited long term benefit without education. For that reason WRI feel strongly about having an educational element to the Hospital.
In order to provide future employment opportunities as well as develop individuals’ respect for wildlife and the understand of the necessity of biodiversity for our own health and that of our planet, WRI will be providing the individuals who work with the animals the option to work towards achieving a certified animal care qualification which could open doors to jobs such as; veterinary nursing, grooming, animal training, wildlife conservation etc.