Australia: More wild animal cruelty cases reported

Veterinarians and animal advocates warn they are seeing more animal cruelty cases, after a series of distressing incidents in Queensland, including wild ducks being shot with homemade arrows.

Spray-painted brush turkeys, a kangaroo shot with a cross bow and a flying fox shot by BB gun pellets are among the other incidents reported recently on the Sunshine Coast.

Veterinarian Ludo Valenza from the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital said she was seeing more cases of people intentionally harming animals in the wild each year.

"It's important for us to shed some light on the fact that these crimes are happening," she said.

Earlier this month, Dr Valenza treated wild ducks at the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital that had been shot with homemade arrows.

She hoped the culprit would be caught.

"Our wildlife are already out there struggling from temperature changes and an increase in people moving to the Sunshine Coast," she said.

"So they're more likely to get hit by cars or attacked by domestic pets or caught in fishing line or hit by boats.

"We really don't need to be causing these precious animals any more harm than what they're already experiencing."

RSPCA general manager of inspectorate and rescue Rachel Woodrow said animal cruelty was a criminal offence under the Animal Care and Protection Act.

She said it could be hard to prosecute, however, because there was often little evidence when wild animals were attacked.

"Crimes often happen in the dark of night," she said.

Ms Woodrow encouraged everyone to work hard at reporting the mistreatment of wild animals so they were not left to die in pain.

"What's important is that people are reporting [sightings of injured animals] ... but as a collective society, we need to do better," she said.

"There are agencies out there that have resources to get involved in these investigations."

Ms Woodrow said there was evidence suggesting people who were cruel to animals were more likely to be violent to humans as well.

"RSPCA have actually recently engaged in a strategic partnership with Queensland Police Service because the research does clearly show those links," she said.

"So there's a propensity there, for somebody who is a clear animal cruelty offender, to also be involved in other violent behaviour.

"Police can use that as a potential indicator or precursor to domestic violence."

Specialist veterinary pathologist professor Rachel Allavena from the University of Queensland said the community needed to be vigilant about these crimes.

There's a really strong association of animal abuse and animal killing with a tendency to become a serial killer later in life," she said.

"There's a really strong association of abuse of animals with domestic violence, or violent tendencies against other people."

Professor Allavena described herself as a crime scene investigator (CSI) for animals.

"We do autopsies on them, we assess their dead tissues and do special tests to try and figure out why animals have died," she said.

She said animals were often also victims in homicides, mass shootings and domestic violence incidents.

"With those really serious crimes, the police will usually ask us to provide additional information about what's happened to the animal," she said.

"All of the unfortunately nasty things that people will do to each other, they'll often do to animals as well."

Professor Allavena said while her job was confronting, she still found it rewarding to be part of the justice system.

"Doing our jobs well to help [the justice] process is really, really satisfying," she said.

"The ability to contribute to protecting society or bringing somebody to justice, if they've committed a crime, is also something that helps get you through the day."