During bushfires and emergency events WIRES can be inundated with enquires from people wanting to assist wildlife.
Many calls we take are from people wanting to assist with the rescue of injured wildlife in a direct way. While these offers are appreciated as it’s very encouraging to know that people want to help wildlife in times of tragedy, it is necessary for WIRES rescuers and carers to be trained and licenced before they are able to do this safely. Only appropriately trained members are authorised to carry out emergency wildlife rescue and care activities and even they must not enter fire areas until authorised to do so by local Fire Control Officers.
Currently the bushfires are being controlled and an emergency / severe weather event has not been declared, therefore WIRES has not been notified to respond via the Department of Primary Industry (DPI) Agriculture and Animal Services Functional Area.
Bushfires present a significant risk to the safety of volunteers and the activities conducted during and after a fire event are managed by first responder organisations such as RFS, Fire & Rescue NSW and SES.
First responder volunteers who are authorised to be on the fire grounds do help wildlife where they can. These animals are brought out of the fire zone and taken to vets for emergency treatment and from there to WIRES volunteers for ongoing care.
One of these animals was a tiny ringtail possum joey rescued from the Royal National Park area. She has burns on her tail, ears and all four paws and is having daily vet checks for signs of respiratory problems. Her WIRES carer, Ludy says she is responding well but burns can take weeks and sometimes months of recovery.
If you are interested in becoming a volunteer with WIRES we encourage you to find out more about becoming a volunteer so that you can join a local branch and assist with ongoing wildlife rescue and care in the future.
In addition, you can also assist wildlife during fires as outlined below.
General advice for helping wildlife after bushfires
Download our free Wildlife Rescue App and register your email so that you have emergency wildlife rescue advice immediately available if you need it & you can report a rescue to our rescue team direct from the app.
Take domestic animals with you if you evacuate or keep cats indoors and dogs under control wherever possible so that wildlife can flee safely through your yard if needed.
Leave out bowls of water for animals and birds escaping fires, use shallow bowls with a few sticks or stones on one side to allow smaller animals to escape if they fall in. Only place water out for animals on your property. Do not put containers in National Parks or other areas as this can cause pollution problems in the future.
Keep a cardboard box and towel in the boot of your car in case you find an injured animal that you can safely contain without putting yourself in any danger.
If you rescue an animal that has been burnt, do not attempt to feed it, please wrap it very loosely, ideally in 100% cotton fabric, place it in a ventilated box with a lid and keep it in a dark, quiet place whilst waiting for a rescuer or for transport to the nearest vet.
If you can safely take injured animals to your nearest vet please do so, as injured animals will require urgent vet assessment. If you can please also call WIRES to let us know which vet you’ve taken the animal to so we can follow up with vet to bring the animals into care when they are ready.
Do not approach injured snakes, flying-foxes, large macropods, raptors or monitors as these must be rescued by trained specialists, for these species please call WIRES first for rescue assistance on 1300 094 737.
On January 7, 2018 an extreme heatwave struck south eastern Australia. The wildlife of Sydney and surrounding areas and in particular areas of western Sydney experienced temperatures in excess of 45 degrees celsius. At temperatures above 42-43 degrees combined with high humidity flying-fox colonies are very vulnerable to heat stress.
As the temperatures reach these levels the bats start to move down the trees as they begin to have difficulty regulating their body temperature. The young pups will succumb first and begin falling from the trees to the ground where they will quickly de-hydrate and die.
On January 7th this is what began to happen in the early afternoon. Local WIRES volunteers were monitoring colonies and in the early afternoon began to see the young pups dropping to the ground in their hundreds. This occurred at colonies in Campbelltown, Parramatta Park, Yarramundi, South Creek and Emu Plains.
Teams were mobilised at many sites and all our vaccinated rescuers who were available began to triage those who had a chance at survival. More than 40 young flying-fox pups were taken into critical care from the two camps and heartbreakingly some of those lives have also been lost despite the best care possible. Little 'Yoghurt' above is one of the lucky ones rescued and currently in care and at this stage doing OK.
On the day many hundreds of young pups were able to be re-hydrated and reunited with parents and credit goes to our amazing volunteers who worked outside in the 45 degree heat to do what they could to help ensure more lives were not lost.
Meanwhile our volunteers continue to monitor the colonies and even on Wednesday - 3 days later more bodies were still being recovered as even more weakened animals succumb to ongoing stress. We estimate the number of bats lost in these five colonies alone to be approaching 1000, with hundreds more bodies still in the trees too high to be recovered.
Many other species were also being helped by WIRES over the weekend, possums with burnt feet and many heat stressed birds including one Gang Gang cockatoo.
There is a Short-beaked echidna somewhere in the wilds of north west Sydney, who has been given a second chance thanks to WIRES and wildlife heroes Salina and Bec.
Given increased development, this area of Sydney has seen an increase in the number of echidnas coming into care in recent months.
“That’s the third one I’ve cared for this year,” said Bec. “We’ve got so much development in the area, the poor things are being driven out of their homes.”
WIRES rescuer Salina answered the call to help the echidna who was found by a homeowner’s dogs in her backyard.
“He had been in the position where we found him for four days,” said Salina, adding that the house was located across the road from where new housing was being constructed. “We initially thought he was stuck but he’d actually dug himself in.”
Realising that it was a two-person job to extract the echidna, Salina returned the next day with another experienced WIRES rescuer.
They were able to gently move the echidna and take him to a vet where he was found to have a scratched beak and injured leg.
“We get them out of harm’s way,” said Salina. “But we try to get them back out in the wild as quickly as possible.”
That’s because, at this time of year, echidnas may have a puggle in a burrow which can only survive for four to five days without their parent.”
Affectionately known as Fatty, the echidna was a very large example of his species, although it wasn’t possible to tell whether it was in fact male or female.
“He was massive, he would fill the bottom of a plastic garbage bin,” said Bec.
“He loved his food but because of his sore beak, he had to be encouraged to go foraging for food.”
This was achieved by first using a bowl with sections that the echidna had to lick around and then using an enrichment feeder that Bec has made for captive echidnas.
You can see in the photo, the enrichment tool has holes that encourage the echidna to search for food inside.
“Finally he was ready to start hunting for his own food,” said Bec. “That’s when I managed to get him a termite mound which he managed to break open.”
Satisfied that he could feed himself in the wild, Bec was able to release Fatty in bushland near where he had been found initially.
“Echidnas are territorial… there’s not point trying to relocate them because they will just go back to where their burrow is,” said Bec.
The same is true for possums and gliders. They must be released as close to their rescue location as possible.
Would you like to give a Christmas present to an echidna? Watch our short video to find out how… it might not be as easy as you first think!
Another one of our wildlife heroes is Sydney Arborist Kai. This year alone, he has helped trained WIRES volunteers to release around 20 possums where they can continue their lives in the wild.
Mainly working in the inner west of Sydney, Kai documents his possum releases on social media and is happy to support WIRES’ work with Brushtail and Ringtail possums.
“From my point of view, handling a little creature is so different to anything else I do… I have to be very careful,” said Kai.
Once Kai has fixed a possum box or drey into the tree where the animal is to be released, he uses a pulley system to hoist them up into the tree, with the help of a WIRES rescuer on the ground.
He said it’s very satisfying to be able to put these rehabilitated animals back into nature where they belong.
Everyday heroes come in many forms. Some people look out for our wildlife and call WIRES when they find an animal in need of help. Others are able to volunteer their time to become carers for orphaned, injured and displaced animals.
WIRES receives many calls about birds that need assistance but we wouldn’t have such a great success rate in rescues if it wasn’t for heroes like the members of the public and emergency services who regularly lend a hand.
In late October, in the Northern Rivers region of New South Wales, some very observant council workers noticed the nest of a pair ofTawny Frogmouths at one of the city’s depots.
After watching the pair tend to their young ones over the course of days, the men noticed that the parent birds had not returned to the nest after some wild weather. Despite daily checks, they have not been seen since and their fate is unknown.
Concerned for the welfare of the young chicks and with the threat from predatory birds growing, the council workers contacted WIRES and volunteer rescuer Marion attended the scene.
They decided to use a cherry picker to access the nest and bring the chicks to ground, after consulting with the council’s work health and safety officer.
Thanks to Lismore City Council and employees Rod, Trent and Jeremy, the rescue operation went smoothly and the birds went into care with WIRES volunteer Julie. After four weeks regrettably, one of the chicks passed away, but the other one is doing well and has been housed with another young Tawny as a buddy.
“They do not always make it when raising them from such a young age,” said Julie, adding that they were probably only a week old when they were orphaned.
Having had more than 200 Tawny Frogmouths in her care over the past few years, Julie has a special bond with these birds.
The peak rescue season at WIRES started early this year due to unseasonally warm weather. Some species, like our iconic Australian Wood Duck, are now nesting for the second time and raising new batches of ducklings.
WIRES carer Inga has rescued scores of ducks from different parts of Sydney over recent months. One rescue started with a call from a motorist on a very busy road at Leppington in south-west Sydney.
“Two baby wood ducklings had fallen down the drain,” says Inga. “It was on a busy road and we had to call in the Fire Brigade to assist inthe rescue… unfortunately we were only able to find one of the ducklings.”
Thankfully, the rescued bird was in good condition and after some time in care, Inga was able to release it back into the wild. She says that ducks usually know exactly where they are going.
“When people find them on roads or footpaths they are often taking their ducklings from their nest site to the nearest waterway.”
But for those that are in danger WIRES provides a vital lifeline and donations ensure there is someone there to take the hundreds of calls for help we receive each day.
The reality is that our greatest heroes are our donors and virtual carers who provide ongoing financial support.
When you become a hero for wildlife you will be overwhelmed by the benefits. Not only are you saving the lives of our precious native animals, but the support you offer to WIRES will enable us to continue providing a vital service to the community.
In a first for NSW, a new microbat aviary has been built near Goulburn. Owned and managed by WIRES Inc. and funded through a community grant from Holcim Australia, the Holcim Bat Flight Centre was officially opened on Monday November 27.
The aviary will provide a place for microbats in care to regain flight fitness prior to their return to the wild.
The centre has already received requests to accommodate microbats from areas throughout the state including Goulburn, Marulan, Yass, Young, Wagga Wagga, Coffs Harbour and Sydney.
WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor said until now there have been no suitable aviaries in NSW able to accommodate the flight rehabilitation requirements for many of the microbat species that come into care.
Despite their small size (from only 4cm in length), many bat species are adapted for fast flight above the forest canopy. They need very l
arge, empty spaces before they will even consider taking off and the new aviary is a 10m long by 10m and 4m high.
Thanks to this generous donation from Holcim we now have a suitable space capable of accommodating almost every species of microbat found in NSW.
Holcim general manager Stephen Mossie said the company was delighted to support this excellent community-based environmental program. “The aim of this new centre is to protect and preserve some of NSW’s unique native species and help ensure their survival.”
There are approximately 32 species of microbats found in NSW, ranging in size from 4 to 40g.
They are nocturnal insect pest controllers, consuming up to 100 per cent of their body weight in insects every night.
Although it is estimated that fewer than 1pc of flying-foxes and bats carry Australian Bat Lyssavirus it is a requirement of the NSW Health Service that anyone working with these animals is vaccinated as a safety precaution.
Members of the public are warned to never take the risk of handling any bat but to call WIRES on 1300 094 737.
WIRES has a phenomenal success rate in rescuing native animals in need in New South Wales.
There are so many people who contribute to this success, from concerned members of the public, to our amazing volunteer rescuers and carers, to our staff, donors and supporters. To us, these people are everyday heroes.
The spring and summer months are some of the busiest times of year for the WIRES rescue office and our branch volunteers. During August WIRES received more than 9,000 calls and during September this rose to nearly 15,000.
One of these calls resulted in an amazing reunion between a Brushtail possum and her young offspring at an apartment in Sydney.
When Rebecca from Dee Why moved her barbeque cover and it seemed much heavier than normal, she instinctively knew that an animal had taken up residence inside. When a large possum darted out underneath and leapt to the safety of a nearby tree, Rebecca could see that it had panicked and left its young one trapped in the cover.
As Rebecca was located on the first floor and did not have direct access to the trees opposite her balcony, she did not know how she could reunite the young one with its mother.
“I called WIRES, and two rescuers came out. One of them reached in and gently removed the baby possum,” explained Rebecca.
“She went downstairs to the people below us, and they let her put a ladder against a tree which allowed her to put the baby fairly high up in the tree.”
What happened next surprised everyone.
“The baby climbed up the tree in the direction of the mother possum,” she said.
“The mum kept jumping away but then she realised it was her baby and came back.
“The baby jumped onto a twig that nearly broke and the mum caught her just in time,” said Rebecca, whose daughters were watching the whole scene with fascination.
“It was really gorgeous. When they were reunited, the mother grabbed the baby and cuddled it and then put it on her back,” she said.
WIRES volunteer rescuer and carer Natalie attended the call. Natalie and her mother, also a WIRES volunteer, have rescued scores of possums in the past six weeks that often find themselves in trouble in their search for food.
But there’s another twist to this possum reunion story, as Natalie explained.
“When I attended the call, I recognised the mother possum. We had released her in the exact same spot only two weeks prior.”
“She had been found living on a balcony on the other side of the apartment block and had stress dermatitis,” she said.
When Natalie took the possum into care for several weeks, she was treated with penicillin until the wound on her back healed and then released in the same area she had been found.
However, Natalie had placed a nesting box high up in a tree nearby to provide alternative accommodation for the shelter-seeking possum.
When Rebecca’s call came into WIRES that day, rescue coordinator Lucy was on hand to answer it. She was able to talk Rebecca through the process of the rescue.
“Most of our native wildlife are active and breeding at the moment, so we are getting a large variety of species needing our help, particularly possums and birds,” said Lucy.
Lucy describes her work at WIRES as “incredibly rewarding”.
“The animals most definitely inspire me. They are so resilient, and have wonderful survival instincts. It’s always lovely to see what lengths they will go to protect their young,” she said.
The story of the mother possum in Dee Why being reunited with her trapped young one is typical of literally thousands of rescues that will take place over the spring and summer months.
“At the end of a hard day, it’s great to know that you have played an important part in getting these animals rescued and rehabilitated, and ultimately back into the wild,” said Lucy.
Each year, WIRES runs an online Food Fund appeal to assist our network of 2,500 volunteers to pay for food for the animals they have in care.
At this time of year, and through the Summer months, WIRES volunteers will be feeding hundreds of hungry young animals. And, the rescue and assistance calls from the public just keep on coming.
Our dedicated volunteers are already hand-feeding large numbers of kangaroos, wallabies, gliders, wombats and possum joeys along with numerous species of native fledgling birds. They all come into WIRES due to injuries,displacement from their habitat or being orphaned while they are still dependent on their parents for food and warmth.
The Food Fund presents a great opportunity for people who are passionate about supporting our wildlife but who can’t care for animals themselves, to contribute directly towards their care.
One of the largest costs in running a wildlife rescue service like WIRES is paying for food. Although we provide subsidies and funds to our branches around the state, we know that many of our dedicated volunteers also pay for food out of their own pockets.
Launched in 2014, the Food Fund raised $15,000 last year and WIRES hopes to raise at least twice that amount this year.
We hope that one day we will be able to raise enough to cover our entire annual food cost for wildlife in care which is around $222,000 annually.
For more information about the kinds of food we need to provide for native animals and how you can help, visit wildlifefoodfund.org.au
During the next few months many juvenile birds of prey begin dispersing to make their own way in the world and as these ‘teenagers’ venture forth, mistakes are made that result in injuries.
Concussion seems to be a common thread as a result of flying and judgement errors or perhaps just being in the wrong place at the wrong time. These high speed flyers then come into contact with both human and natural structures with a force that can have serious consequences. In just the last few weeks one of our specialist raptor carers in the south of the state has had two juvenile Boobook owls, a juvenile Nankeen kestrel and a female Brown falcon in care, all suffering concussion!
This spectacular adult female Brown Falcon, was one recent patient.
Rodney, saw her collide with a structure and fall to the ground so as he was working nearby he kept an eye on her to see if she would recover and take off.
After watching for some time and seeing her starting to be attacked by the local magpie flock and still unable to fly away he decided he had to intervene.
Normally we do not advise people to approach birds of prey as they can be large and feisty birds. In this instance the location was very remote and she was very docile as a result of the concussion, so Rodney was able to safely and gently contain the falcon. He then drove a considerable distance to meet up with Shelly our local, trained raptor carer.
Luckily for her x-rays, observation and flight checks cleared her of any injury and she appeared back to full strength so the decision was made to get her quickly back to the wild. At this time of year she may still have had chicks in a nest.
Although both sexes of this species share incubation of the eggs and both care for the young, it is the female who performs the bulk of these duties while the male supplies most of the food.
The long drive was made back to where she was rescued and after initially trying to exit from the rear of the cage, Shelly reports she was soon airborne and another of our special native raptors was successfully released.
These falcons are known to live for up to 18 years in the wild so we hope she has a second chance at a long life back in the wild.
The Campbelltown area in south-western Sydney contains the only population of koalas listed in NSW as likely to be growing. While koalas found further south in the Wollondilly and Wingecarribee Local Government Areas may also be expanding, those populations are affected by chlamydia. This makes it vital that the chlamydia-free Campbelltown koalas survive as a reservoir of healthy animals from which to regenerate declining populations.
From a scientific, ecological and community perspective, the koalas of Campbelltown are priceless. Few, if any, other major urban areas on earth can claim to support a species as globally recognised and valued as the koala. However, their long-term survival is being directly threatened by the level and speed of urbanisation projected for the Campbelltown and Greater Macarthur area. Read the full public statement
On October 3, Sydney’s newest luxury hotel - Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour - will open its doors to WIRES and 27 other deserving charities.
As part of the Sofitel’s gala pre-opening night, WIRES has been given a whole floor to use for fundraising, which includes a range of rooms from luxury accommodation to twin share configurations and one wheelchair access room.
WIRES has been given 15 overnight stay packages which it will auction online at ebay.com.au from September 3-8.
Go to the WIRES store http://stores.ebay.com.au/wiresnsw on eBay to view the amazing packages we have on offer. You can bid for an overnight stay at the new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour for you and a friend, which includes breakfast and invitation to the Gala Ballroom event where you will receive complimentary drinks and canapés.
All proceeds of the WIRES Sofitel online auction will go to WIRES.
All the packages are listed on our eBay store http://stores.ebay.com.au/wiresnsw and will be auctioned from 3-7 September. We encourage everyone to bid on a package for their chance to be the first to stay at this new build 5-star hotel and be a WIRES VIP for the night.
Here are the packages on offer that all include an overnight stay at the new Sofitel Sydney Darling Harbour and include breakfast and an invitation to a Gala Ballroom event with complimentary drinks and canapes.
WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor encourages everyone to get involved and support the auction. “This will go a long way to raise much-needed funds for emergency wildlife rescue and care, we rely on donations to keep our organisation running and this is a unique opportunity to offer our supporters a once-in-a-lifetime experience in return for their kind support”.
Bidding is open on ebay.com.au from 8pm on Sunday 3 September and will end at 8pm on Friday 8 September 2017.
You just need to be a member of eBay (free registration) in order to bid in the WIRES Sofitel online auction. The prize is non-transferable and must be taken on the 3 October. For the full terms and conditions see the auction listings on eBay using the links above.
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