Health & Management / UK Wildlife Casualty Management / List of hyperlinked Techniques & Protocols:
Long page - please wait to load
< > Wildlife Casualty Record Keeping (with special reference to UK Wildlife):
Click image for full page view Click image for full page view Click image for full page view

Introduction and General Information

  • Record keeping is a vital and sometimes under-rated part of the care of casualty animals.
  • For the individual animal, accurate records assist in:
    • Initial assessment and choice of treatment.
    • Continuity of treatment (particularly when personnel change).
    • Objective monitoring of progress (particularly important when personnel change or when progress is gradual).
    • Decision-making for release.
  • In addition, accurate and detailed records are critical for any future analysis of factors affecting the success or failure of rehabilitation efforts.
  • Records may be required to show that a casualty animal of a protected species was taken from the wild and is being held, for reasons permitted under legislation such as the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981.
  • It is important to keep records for some time after the animal has been released. In the case of protected species there may be a legal requirement to keep records for a specified minimum length of time after release of the wildlife casualty.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties.


  • In the best interests of the animal, we recommend that all wildlife requiring first aid and care should be transferred to experienced carers who will have access to specialised equipment, handling facilities and veterinary care; we also recognise that in exceptional circumstances this may not be possible. In such situations, members of the public who care for an individual animal or brood must also keep records - at the very least this should include a detailed daily diary of all aspects of the animals' care, husbandry and veterinary treatment, together with any unusual or significant events. This type of record is outlined in the section below entitled "Daily Care Records".

(B151, D27, D28, P19.1.w11, P19.1.w12, V.w5, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Admission Records

  • See: Wildpro - Casualty Record Form (This form can be used either directly or as a template for customising forms for an individual organisation))
  • Admission records are important to provide a history of the individual wildlife casualty for the initial assessment of the animal, and for decision-making in the choice of the release site. They may also be used (depending on policy) for informing concerned members of the public about the progress of casualties they have presented.
  • Admission records should contain the following information about the casualty (Click here for: Wildpro - Casualty Record Form):
    • Place of origin, in detail: e.g. map reference, street name and house number, recognisable landmarks.
    • Time and date at which the casualty was found.
    • Time and date of admission.
    • Species.
    • Sex.
    • Age estimate.
    • Body weight.
    • Reasons for animal being taken from wild/condition on presentation.
    • Identity of the person who reported/took/presented the animal: (name, address, telephone number).
    • Record of signature for transfer of responsibility of care from finder to veterinary hospital or wildlife rescue centre.
    • Care/treatment prior to presentation.
    • Unique identifier (usually a number) allowing linking of admission records with records of daily care/treatment, release and follow-up records.
    • Identifying marks, if any (e.g. identichip, BTO ring, darvic ring, tattoo, scar etc.).
  • Particular attention must be paid to recording the details of cases where a prosecution may result.
  • Examples of admission forms are available.
  • For badgers found caught in snares a Snaring Incident Report form should be completed (Click here for: RSPCA - Problems With Badgers? - Snaring Incident Report).

(B156.15.w15, D28, V.w5, P19.1.w11, P19.1.w12, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Daily Care Records

  • Records detailing the reason for admission, daily husbandry (food and fluid intake, urine and faeces/droppings production etc.), veterinary treatment, behaviour, and changes in the individual casualty are required in order to:
    • ensure continuity of treatment, particularly when there are many casualties and/or more than one caretaker looking after a given animal.
    • allow accurate monitoring of progress with minimal risk of bias.
  • Standard veterinary "Clinical" care forms are often suitable for this purpose.
  • All records should be clearly marked with the identifying number of the individual casualty.
  • It may be considered prudent for husbandry and treatments to be initiated by the person giving the treatment/care, along with the time and date at which the husbandry/treatment was carried out. This minimises the risk of treatments, feeding etc. being duplicated or omitted and gives the best chance of any errors being noticed and rectified.
  • Identification of the assessor in subjective monitoring (e.g. of degree of alertness) may also be useful as such measurements may be different between assessors.
  • Information included in daily assessments of an animal may change depending on factors such as the species and age of the animal and the reason for admission. For example daily weighing may be essential for infants being hand reared but be neither required nor helpful in a large or medium-sized mammal recovering from an injury.
  • Information from daily records may also give information important in the detection, diagnosis and control of an infectious disease being transmitted within a treatment facility.

(B188, P19.1.w11, V.w5, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Hand-rearing Records

  • In addition to the normal daily records that should be maintained for all hospitalised animals, specific data should be recorded when hand-rearing animals.
  • Accurate records provide a vital objective indication of the progress of the individual animal, and can also act as a guide for the rearing of other individuals in the future.
  • Individuals in a litter must be individually identifiable in order to allow the progress of each infant to be monitored. Temporary identification may be made possible using small colour marks applied to the fur. An appropriate non-toxic material such as coloured correction fluid (e.g. Tippex) or nail varnish may be used for this purpose.

The following data should be included in records of each hand-reared individual:

  • Weight:
    • Weigh daily, at same time each day in order to monitor weight gain accurately.
    • Scales must be of an accuracy appropriate to the body weight of the animal.
    • It may be useful to weight the animal before and after feeding to determine the actual weight of food taken.
    • If the infant's weight is not increasing or weight loss is occurring, consider the quantity of food being consumed, whether the animal is suffering from diarrhoea, or if there is an infection present.
  • Feeding: keep individual records of:
    • Milk replacer used.
    • Any dilution.
    • Addition of e.g. vitamins, minerals.
    • Quantity of milk taken.
    • Number of feeds per day (note time at each feed).
  • Urination/defecation:
    • Produced spontaneously?
    • Produced in response to toileting?
    • Changes in colour/consistency of faeces.
  • Weaning:
    • Age first solid foods taken.
    • Preferred initial food items.
    • Age of weaning.

Return to top of page

End-Result Records

  • Click here for: Wildpro - Casualty Record Form (This form can be used either directly or as a template for customising forms for an individual organisation))
  • End-result records should include a unique identifier (usually a number) allowing the records to be cross-referenced with admission, rehabilitation records and with post-release information.
  • Individual identification marks (identichip, BTO ring, darvic ring, tattoo, scar etc.).
  • Information which should be contained on end-result records includes:
    • Fate of the animal (Death/euthanasia/release/transfer to long term care facility).
    • Cause of death/reason for euthanasia/reason for transfer to longer-term care.
    • Post mortem examination results, if performed. (Standard veterinary "Post-mortem" forms can be used in the first instance.)
    • If released:
      • Time, date and place of release.
      • Weather conditions at the time of release (rain and wind, strength and direction) and immediately thereafter (e.g. bad weather within a day or two of release).
      • Age, weight, body condition, general condition, wound healing etc. at time of release.
      • Any natural identifying marks/characteristics.
      • Any artificial identifying marks etc. (e.g. tag, British Trust for Ornithology ring, implanted microchip).
      • Type of release (hard/soft).
      • Follow-up: any records of post-release survival.
      • Staff member responsible for release.
    • If transferred to long term care facility:
      • Name, address and type of facility.
      • Details of person accepting responsibility of care.
      • Staff member responsible for transfer
      • Named veterinary surgeon.
      • Record of signature for transfer of responsibility of care.

(P19.1.w11, P19.1.w12, V.w5, V.w6)

  • There may be a specific requirement for release records to be maintained if licenses have been issued for release, for example:
    • Licences may be issued for the release of muntjac within the 12 "Core counties" defined by Joint Nature Conservation Council (JNCC) (Bedfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Hertfordshire, Leicestershire, Norfolk, Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire, Suffolk and Warwickshire). The licence holder is required to complete a six-monthly return detailing muntjac which have been passed through the facilities. See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties - Release of Animals for further details.

Return to top of page

Post-Release (Follow-up) Records

  • Little is known about the survival of most rehabilitated wild animals following their release.
  • Assumptions have often been made that individuals which have not been found dead following release have survived, i.e. that their rescue and rehabilitation was successful: this assumption is now being questioned.
  • Work which has been done involving follow-up of wildlife casualties post-release indicates very variable success rates for different species/circumstances.
  • Post-release records could give vital information to improve decision-making in wild animal rehabilitation and release.
  • Entering of data on post-release records will generally involve the "marking" of the animal prior to release. This may require a licence. See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties - Marking of Animals for further details.
  • Identification information on follow-up records should be referenced to records from admission through to release.
  • Records on any sightings of an animal post-release should include as a minimum:
    • If seen alive: time, date and place seen, apparent condition (fit and healthy, thin etc.).
    • If found dead: time, date and place found, circumstances (e.g. dead on road, brought in by cat), cause of death / post mortem examination results.
    • Any identifying marks, BTO rings etc (Direct link to "BTO Ring Report Recovery Form" from Website Ref - W85 - British Trust for Ornithology (BTO)).
  • Scientific analysis of post-release data is required in order to gain maximum information regarding the success of rehabilitation which may be used to guide future rehabilitation and release activities.

(P19.1.w11, P19.1.w12, V.w5, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Analysis of Records

  • Analysis of records is an important part of the learning process in the management of wildlife casualties so that best-practice techniques and guidelines may be developed.
  • Accurate and detailed records facilitate the analysis of records to compare success rates e.g. between species, for different presenting problems and for different methods of treatment, husbandry and release.
  • Wildlife rehabilitators, whether individuals or in specialised wildlife hospitals, are generally too busy to do detailed analyses of rehabilitation results.
  • Colleges and universities frequently have researchers and students looking for data for projects: it may be useful for rehabilitators, academic institutions and relevant organisations to combine their resources and thereby analyse the data.
  • For release and post-release studies in particular, close co-operation may be required, with the development of a project plan.
  • As a minimum, rehabilitators should use their records to contribute to recording schemes such as that managed in the UK by the British Wildlife Rehabilitation Council (BWRC-Wildlife Casualty Recording Scheme - Quarterly Report Form).

(B188, D27, P19.1.w11, P19.1.w12, V.w5, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Marine Mammal Strandings

  • Specific records are used for gathering information on marine mammals and, generally, these are now used to obtain an overall picture of marine mammal strandings in the UK, both in living animals and with post mortem reports.
  • Record forms for whales and dolphins are available, Click here for: BDMLR - Marine Mammal Medic Handbook - Appendix IV - MARC Recording Sheets.


Return to top of page

Large scale "die-offs"

  • When a number of animals become ill or die within a short period, it imperative that the cause should be investigated to prevent any possible acceleration of the problem. Much of the data required for such investigations can only be obtained by accurate records (and samples) being taken at the time that the event is first discovered. Such records would incorporate:
    • Time and Reporting Procedure
    • Location
    • Individual and Population (Species) Data
    • Features of the Disease
    • Management / Human Activities

    Further detailed discussion on these aspects of the "History and Documentation" requirements for Disease Investigation and Control is available within the Disease Investigation and Control section of the "Waterfowl: Health and Management module", see: History & Documentation.

  • A sample record form is available to facilitate history taking for mortality events, Click here for: Appendix A - Sample Specimen History Form - Field Manual of Wildlife Diseases.


Return to top of page

Captive Breeding

  • For any animals entering a captive breeding programme, whether as part of a zoo programme or a private collection, specific records must be maintained.
  • Detailed record-keeping is essential for the development of stud-books. Stud-books are vital to any breeding programme to ensure that genetic diversity is maintained and that problems associated with different sub-species breeding together are avoided.
  • There are software systems available to manage such records and the current global standard animal record keeping systems (ARKS, SPARKS and MEDARKS) are run by ISIS - the International Species Information System. Further information on these systems can be obtained from Website Ref - W162 - Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland


Return to top of page

Human Health Consideration

  • The issue of employment law and record keeping is complex and any organisation involved with first aid and care of wildlife should continuously review their procedures and protocols and ensure that current legislation and best practice is followed.
  • Data protection legislation and personal record confidentiality should also be considered.
  • An organisation is required by law to keep records of all injuries to personnel occurring in association with their employment. A named "safety officer" will often be responsible for these records and notification of any authorities as appropriate. (See: Health and Safety at Work, etc. Act 1974 (J35.147.w1, B142.4.w4, B156.21.w21))
  • Wildlife casualty records should include details of zoonotic infections in animals.
  • Records should also be kept of any zoonotic infections in wildlife carers.
  • Correctly kept records may be useful to indicate or rule out wild animals as the possible source of a zoonotic infection in a carer.
  • Appropriately completed employment records will also indicate the risk a wildlife carer may pose to the animals through any diseases they may be carrying and indicate any precautions that should be undertaken.
  • See: Legislation relating to Wildlife Casualties - Human Health

(V.w5, V.w6)

Return to top of page

Standard Forms and Records

The use of forms for keeping records is fundamental.

Paper Records:

  • At the very least, paper record-keeping should be used, and records should be adequately filed in a manner that any of the management team (vet, nurse or animal keeper) can access the appropriate files at short notice.
  • The format of paper files should be such that they will have longevity. An adequate quality of paper should be used to survive the rigors of a busy animal practice / rescue centre.
  • Files should be signed, or at least initialled, to enable the record-keeper to be identified at a later date.
  • The content of data-files can always be entered into a computerised system at a later date, and the absence of a computer should not discourage carers from keeping detailed records.

Electronic Records:

  • Computerised record-keeping, if properly configured, enables rapid analysis of records and can save time. In the long-term however, the same amount of time will be spent on records, but more information will be accessible.
  • If using electronic records, it is ESSENTIAL that a proper back-up protocol is instigated and maintained.
  • If data on specific animals is to be traced through a captive breeding programme, a programme should be used that will link the information on a particular individual to its sire and dam and also allow it to be traced through the movement of animals to different premises. The Zoo Community largely use the current global standard animal record keeping systems (ARKS, SPARKS and MEDARKS) which is run by ISIS - the International Species Information System. Further information on these systems can be obtained from Website Ref - W162 - Federation of Zoological Gardens of Great Britain and Ireland. It is highly recommended that this system should be considered if keeping collections of animals for captive breeding.

Data Protection Act:

  • Care must be taken with records that the Data Protection Act is not contravened regarding client and employee confidentiality and personal information and it may be necessary to take advice on the types of records that can be maintained.
  • Security of such systems and files must be considered, together with restricted access protocols.

Sign Off:

  • Signatures should be obtained each time the responsibility for the care of an animal is transferred.

Numbering System:

  • It is absolutely vital to ensure that records for the same animal can be connected. Ideally a single number will be assigned to the animal at admission which can then be used for all subsequent records (e.g. clinical, radiography, release, post mortem etc.).


Forms available within Wildpro

Return to top of page

UK Contact Organisations and Published Guidelines for Further Reading (Electronic Library)

(UK Contacts)

(Further Reading)
Click image for full contents list of ELECTRONIC LIBRARY

Return to top of page

Authors & Referees

Author Suzanne Boardman
Referees Debra Bourne and Becki Lawson

Return to top of page