2016 May - Supply of tranquillisers for use in wildlife

The administration of a tranquilliser, sedative or anaesthetic agent is a restricted act of veterinary science but can be performed by a non-veterinarian under the immediate and direct supervision of a veterinarian (Veterinary Practice Regulation 2013 (cl 4(1)(c))). 

Whilst it is an offence for an unregistered person to perform a restricted act of veterinary science there are a number of exceptions including the owner of the animal, an employee of the owner of the animal, a veterinary student, a person with an animal research authority under the Animal Research Act 1985 (s 25), for some specific purposes an employee of the Crown such as a Local Land Services Ranger, or in an emergency (Veterinary Practice Act 2003 (s 9)).

If the person (veterinarian or non-veterinarian) is proposing to administer the tranquilliser (or other medication) using a dart gun then the person must hold a Tranquilliser Permit issued by the Firearms Registry.  Further information is available from the NSW Police Force website.

Veterinarians can only supply to a person responsible for the care of an animal that the veterinarian has either physically examined or has under his or her direct care and only in respect of that animal (or under the written instructions of another veterinarian who has done so).

Finally, it is important to note that the veterinarian supplying the tranquilliser remains responsible for managing the risks to human and animal health posed by the use of the drug.  The Board has previously noted that if the supervised lay person is incompetent or negligent it is the veterinarian who may be subject to professional misconduct allegations and proceedings.

Overall, the supply of tranquillisers for use in wildlife raises similar issues to those regarding supply of barbiturates for euthanasia to non-veterinarians as discussed in the December 2015 issue of Boardtalk.  It is worthwhile reviewing this article as well when contemplating whether or not to supply tranquillisers to non-veterinarians for use in wildlife.