Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital, the only all-species wildlife hospital in NSW outside of Taronga Wildlife Hospitals is facing an uncertain financial future after the NSW government revoked a $6 million, four-year funding grant one week before it was due to commence, citing ‘inadequate value for money’.
“We are extremely disappointed and surprised at the announcement, but wildlife are the biggest losers in this decision,” said BBWH Founder and CEO Dr Stephen Van Mil.
“The financial uncertainty this creates means if we must close, members of the public and volunteer wildlife carers will have nowhere to bring sick and injured native animals for lifesaving care.
“Consequently, more animals will die unnecessarily from road accidents, natural disasters, disease, and attacks by domestic pets and feral pests.”
The Government’s 6 February announcement created a clear expectation among the community, donors, sponsors, and the hospital that Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital had government funding support from 1 July.
“We know we offer value for money and our work saving wildlife is effective. We want to work constructively with the government, who are the legal owners and protectors of wildlife in NSW. We have funded over $4 million of construction, infrastructure, equipment, licences, location, staffing and operations at no cost to the government for the past three years, and our work supports 19 jobs and $4.3 million in economic output across NSW.”
“We have reached out to the Environment Minister Penny Sharpe and our elected representatives across political parties seeking their urgent help, said Dr Van Mil. “We have asked them to consider alternate emergency funding options. While we are extremely disappointed, our objective is to remain open at our current capacity to treat and rehabilitate sick and injured wildlife.
“We have treated over 4000 native animals since opening, at no cost to the government. Our work demonstrably saves wildlife and protects biodiversity. We believe it’s reasonable for the government to contribute to the cost of professional services directly assisting native animals they legally own.”
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