Carers stories 2019
On this page
we will keep you informed about animals that you have brought in to
care with WIRES Northern Rivers branch. If you would like to know about
a particular animal, please email us, and we will do what we can to
keep you up to date.
I’ve always wanted to help wildlife but...
It is something we hear all the time in WIRES... Many people have rescued a native animal and have felt the joy of providing care and compassion to an injured, sick or orphaned animal. They know they would like to be involved; they want to make a difference but feel they may not be able due to a variety of reasons.
With their February workshop fast approaching, WIRES would like to prompt keen future wildlife wildlife carers to re-think some of their misconceptions about wildlife caring and consider joining...
I live in town – there wouldn’t be many wildlife rescues around my home. Not so. Most of our rescues happen in suburban areas where wildlife has to coexist with cars, domestic pets and people. Lismore, Ballina, Byron Bay, Casino, Brunswick Heads, Murwillumbah are all super busy rescue areas and WIRES always needs more volunteers in those areas.
- I don’t have a back yard or much room to keep animals – Initially animals that are sick or injured just need a small rescue tub or basket for short term care.
- I live in a rental house and am not allowed to have animals here – You can still be involved. When a call is received for an animal in trouble our first priority is to collect the animal. As a volunteer with WIRES you can provide valuable help by transporting it to a vet or to another carer.
- I work full time so I’m not available every day – WIRES volunteers outline what days and times they are available and are only called for rescues at those times. Every contribution helps.
- I don’t have a car or transport –WIRES often need locations for people to drop animals in to – particularly in our busy towns.
- I have dogs or cats at home – It is important to keep pets and wildlife separate but many WIRES members have domestic pets. The important thing is to organise your home so wildlife are kept in a room or area where the pets aren’t allowed to go.
I don’t think I want to handle animals, but I still would like to help - There is a role in WIRES for everyone! You can contribute to WIRES by helping with our 24/7 Hotline (66281898), fundraising, public education, working bees, catering for workshops and so on.
Now is a great time to join WIRES since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on February 23rd. You do need to allow time beforehand to complete the online part of the course, if you do not have access to a computer a workbook can be sent to you. Act now!
For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
As the heat continues; please remember that our wildlife is also feeling the heat.
Shallow bird baths are a lifesaver for many creatures – place it near a low tree branch or a bushy shrub to give the birds a quick escape if a predator comes near. Larger bird baths with deeper water can be made safe for small critters by placing pebbles or rocks within, creating a small island.
Larger containers of water can be placed farther away from your home for other wildlife - remember to include a large stick so if a creature falls in there is a way out again! Keeping water away from the house also deters snakes and other animals from seeking water from your pet bowls or dripping taps. Change the water daily to stop mosquitos breeding in your garden and ensuring the water is fresh for a thirsty critter in need.
If you own a swimming pool there are some simple things you can do to assist wildlife seeking a drink of water. Always drape something over the edge of your pool so that animals have a surface to grab hold of and climb out. Shadecloth or a thick rope, secured at one end to something heavy outside the pool, is ideal. Check your pool regularly (twice daily) including in the skimmer box. If you do find any animal trapped in a pool, call WIRES immediately on 66281898 for advice.
Flying-foxes are especially susceptible to a run of days with high temperatures. Flying-foxes suffering heat stress may come to the ground or move lower down roosts closer to the ground during daylight hours.
If you see this please call WIRES immediately. In Northern Rivers area please call 66281898, for other areas please call 1300 094 737.
It is important NEVER TO TOUCH OR HANDLE a flying-fox under any circumstance as a very small number may present a risk of contracting Australian Bat Lyssavirus, a disease transmitted through bites and scratches.
If you are waiting for a WIRES rescuer to arrive and you are able to safely provide some form of shade over the flying-fox (without touching it) to keep it out of the direct sun, please do so.
If the flying-fox is on the ground and it’s a hot day, you can place a cool towel or umbrella above it until the rescuer arrives to protect it from the worst of the heat.
Magpie family seeks human help for distressed chick
Whether it be plastic in the ocean, bale yarn in paddocks or rubbish in landfill, everything we discard has a consequence for the environment and the animals with whom we share the planet. So it was for this young magpie whose inquisitiveness landed it in a life-threatening predicament. Luckily for the bird he/she turned up in the backyard of a caring Goonellabah couple’s home and appeared to seek assistance.
The couple are avid bird-watchers and this magpie family were regular visitors to their place proudly showing them this year’s offspring. There was obviously an element of trust built between the birds and their human friends because the parents allowed the couple to capture their chick that was in distress.
The young bird had found a discarded ring of PVC drainage pipe and had managed to get it over its head and between its beak. WIRES were called to assist and rescuer Rowan went to help. Due to the fragility of a bird’s neck and bones any attempt at removing the ring had to be done very gently. Rowan had some previous experience with PVC pipe having extricated a python from gutter pipe so he used wire-cutters again to split the ring and then remove it from the now much-relieved magpie.
The magpie was checked for injuries and then released to join its appreciative family.
This serves as a reminder to us to be vigilant with everything we discard or recycle as anything has the potential to do harm to the environment or wildlife.
If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since our next workshop will be held in Lismore on February 23rd and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
By Rowan Wigmore
WIRES Assists in Cattle Egret Disaster
The severe storms that ripped across north eastern NSW just before Christmas caused havoc within a Cattle Egret breeding colony at Lawrence near Grafton. Local resident Elizabeth checked the colony when the storm had passed and found countless chicks had been blown to the ground.
Cattle Egrets build their nests in large colonies, high in trees near waterways with the parent birds attending their own chicks. Elizabeth soon realised the task was going to monumental and called WIRES Clarence Valley for help. She kindly opened her home to be the main hub of this disaster.
The next morning there were close to 300 chicks rescued. All of differing ages and had been grouped in containers and boxes with labels of which tree they were found near.
Melanie and Julie from Wires Northern Rivers travelled down to Lawrence to help CV members with the huge task of rehydrating and assessing every chick. Throughout the day, badly injured chicks were taken to the vet and the oldest chicks who were perching well where placed back high in their trees. Some chicks were able be reunited in substitute nests. All chicks were tube fed again and by the end of the day there were still approximately 100 chicks needing to come into care.
WIRES volunteers from Clarence Valley and Mid North Coast, together with Northern Rivers bird carers Melanie, Julie, Katy, Jodie, Artemis, Marion and Hanna all took chicks into care. Thirty-three (33) chicks came to Northern Rivers - and what smelly, hungry little chicks they are! Sadly, over the next few days and weeks some chicks showed they had underlying injuries, but a total of 26 healthy young chicks have thrived.
The chicks are now of the age where they need more room so have been transferred to Melanie’s aviaries. They are set up in their separate groups on nest platforms. A ‘jungle gym’ of branches has been built to encourage them to clamber about and exercise, just as they would be doing in the wild. When they are about 8 weeks old and flying they will be released back into the colony at Lawrence.
This tragic loss of life this would have been so much worse if not for the coordinated efforts of Elizabeth and our amazing WIRES volunteers.
Trapping the trapper
When we set a trap for a rat there is always the possibility we might get more than that. Sadly for two pythons recently brought to WIRES, that was the case.
A member of the public was concerned about rats in his chook run and decided to set a number of traps one evening. To his horror the next day he found a lovely juvenile carpet python struggling to extricate itself from two traps. He immediately released the poor snake, placed it in a bag and called WIRES for assistance.
WIRES rescuer Rowan went to the call but the snake had escaped the bag through a small hole and was found in the garden outhouse. The snake was given a preliminary check which revealed that the spine was intact but that there was likely to be some internal organ damage as well as an external wound and severe pain. Rowan took the snake home and administered some oral pain relief while waiting for another WIRES volunteer, Martin, to transport the snake to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.
Fortunately, this snake was given the all-clear at Currumbin and is now back in the care of WIRES until it is ready to be released.
A second snake, which suffered the same fate, is still at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital and WIRES is awaiting news of his/her condition.
Spring-type rat traps are an inhumane way of controlling vermin. They are non-discriminatory, and various wildlife can be caught in them. Rat poisons are also not recommended as they also carry a risk of secondary death to predators such as raptors, kookaburras and reptiles that may eat the poisoned rats or mice.
Snakes, and particularly pythons, are our greatest natural rat traps and will happily rid us of these rodents silently and free of charge. WIRES recommend learning to coexist with these beautiful animals, and to be grateful for the service they provide. If you do need to place traps for rats or mice, use live-traps (available at hardware stores and online). And if you do find an animal that has been injured by a trap, please call WIRES immediately on 66281898.
If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is a great time to join since their next workshop will be held in Lismore on February 23rd and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.
By Rowan Wigmore