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Wildlife Field Techniques: Animal Handling and Survey Methods

The ability to handle wildlife safely is crucial in many workplaces. These skills are also essential for workers who encounter wildlife during bushfires or other natural disasters. This course will equip participants with the skills and confidence to handle and transport wildlife safely and humanely, and/or carry out wildlife surveys.

About this course

Enrol in our February intake and receive an introductory launch discount on your tuition fee. This fee will revert to our higher course tuition fee in our next intake.

In this course, participants will learn how to design and carry out wildlife surveys using industry-standard techniques whilst developing the skills to safely and humanely handle native wildlife.

The four-week online component covers animal ethics, standard operating procedures, work health and safety considerations, disease control procedures, basic animal first aid, relocation and transport of wildlife, and appropriate design of wildlife surveys.
During the hands-on field trip, participants will carry out wildlife surveys and learn how to safely and effectively handle a diverse range of native wildlife likely to be encountered in the field or in the workplace.

Course outline

The course consists of four online modules and a three-day field trip to Shoalhaven Zoo, a wildlife park in Nowra, from Monday 8th to Wednesday 10th March 2021.

Online modules cover animal ethics, work health and safety when dealing with animals, wildlife first aid, and standard operating procedures for carrying out wildlife surveys, and handling and transporting wildlife.

 The field trip will give participants hands on experience working with wildlife. On the first afternoon, participants will work in small teams to design a fauna survey targeted at terrestrial mammals and reptiles. Each team will then deploy a series of traps (Elliott traps, funnel traps, pipe traps and cage traps) designed to capture arboreal and terrestrial vertebrates. In the evening, groups will carry out spotlighting to detect arboreal mammals.

On day two, each group will check their traps in the morning and will learn how to accurately record data, identify animals to species, and safely handle animals captured inside traps. Participants will have the opportunity to handle animals, identify them, and take standard measurements of mass, gender, and reproductive status. During this practical session, participants will discover the benefits and drawbacks associated with different trapping methods and handling techniques. In addition, participants will learn how to deliver basic first aid to wildlife, safely release dangerous animals that can be captured inside traps, and humanely treat and transport injured wildlife that might be encountered on worksites or during natural disasters (e.g. bushfires).

In the subsequent training exercises, participants will carry out a series of practical tasks which will help them to develop the skills needed to safely handle larger wildlife (wallabies, kangaroos, wombats, koalas) that are frequently encountered on work sites or after natural disasters. These sessions will run throughout the day, and will involve a series of talks, practical demonstrations and workshops. In the late afternoon, each group will reset their trapping lines. After dinner, participants will have the opportunity to survey frog ponds and identify frogs based on their calls and external features.

On day three, participants will check their trap lines early in the morning and will have the opportunity to practise the skills that they learned on day two. After breakfast, participants will carry out additional practical tasks to fine tune their skills in handling larger animals. After lunch, there will be practical demonstrations of how to safely remove and transport venomous snakes from a work site. Participants will then have the opportunity to use industry certified tools (hoop bags and snake sticks) to deal with snakes in a range of workplace situations.  

The final session will involve a short practical quiz and skills test to ensure that participants have attained the level of competency necessary to work with wildlife in the workplace.

Key benefits of a microcredential

This microcredential aligns with the 4-credit point subject, Wildlife Field Techniques: Animal Handling and Survey Methods (60005) in the Master of Science (C04241). This microcredential may qualify for recognition of prior learning at this and other institutions.

Who is this course for?

The microcredential is accessible to graduates, the public, and professionals from a wide range of industry sectors (ecological consultancies, mining sectors, local councils, rural fire service, bush regenerators, Wires, RSPCA, zoos, and government departments) and backgrounds who seek to learn how to safely handle and relocate native wildlife or effectively design and carry out wildlife surveys using industry standard methods.

Course information

Course learning objectives

Participants who complete this course will gain skills in planning and executing wildlife surveys, and safely handling native wildlife. These skills will benefit participants seeking a career in the environmental consultancy industry, in zoos or aquariums, or in government or non-government organisations. We envisage that staff working in the broader environmental sector, rural fire service, and animal care groups would gain additional skills and capabilities that would benefit their employers.


Online quiz, and practical assessment at Shoalhaven Zoo.

Teaching and learning strategies

This course incorporates a range of teaching and learning strategies, including hands-on practical field work, live presentations, discussions, case studies and group activities. Online workshops are scheduled throughout the teaching period for participants to interact with instructors and peers, followed by a three-day group field trip to a wildlife park.

Enrolment requirements

Completion of all assessment tasks, including practical assessment tasks scheduled for the field trip, and an overall mark of 50% (Pass) or above.

Mandatory requirements

Mandatory: Availability to attend three-day field trip to Shoalhaven Zoo, a wildlife park in Nowra, from Monday 8th to Wednesday 10th March 2021.

Additional Information

Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included for the field trip.

Camping on site is optional, and motel accommodation is also available in nearby Nowra (own expense).

Participant requirements and equipment

Pre-readings will be supplied to participants. Participants will need to bring long pants, closed footwear, long-sleeved shirts and raincoats for the field workshop. Camping onsite will be optional and participants may choose to stay at nearby accommodation in Nowra.

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