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Carers stories archive

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.


September 25

High as a (tangled) kite

Last week WIRES received a call from a fisherman out in his small boat for a day’s fishing with a couple of friends. They had launched their boat from the Keith Hall Boat Ramp at South Ballina and headed across the Richmond River when they noticed a bird of prey hanging from a high branch with twine and fishing line caught around one foot and wing.

A WIRES volunteer was quickly dispatched to rescue the entangled bird which was identified as an immature Brahminy Kite, a medium sized raptor also known as a Red-backed Sea Eagle. This was to be a challenging rescue.

The only means of reaching the bird was using the “tinny”. Luckily, however, the rescue site was directly opposite the boat ramp. In order to get the raptor down a long aluminium pole was balanced onto the boat with a fishing knife taped to the top, along with towels and a rescue cage.

The rescuers had to act quickly and couldn't afford to make a mistake. One fisherman controlled the rudder to keep the boat as steady as possible and lined up under the hanging bird. The second fisherman cut the twine without doing further injury to the bird and the WIRES volunteer used towels to contain the bird and ensure no further injury once it dropped. The rescue was over in a flash and went like clockwork with such fantastic teamwork.


The bird was exhausted and needed professional treatment straight away. It was rushed to Alstonville Vet Clinic where Vet, Michael Fitzgerald, and Vet nurse, Em, carefully removed the twine and fishing line from the bird’s ankle and foot. Fortunately, the bird still had movement of the foot so it was given hydration, pain relief, antibiotics and after some rest it miraculously began to gain strength.


The next day it was x-rayed and was found to have escaped major injury, although its foot was very sore and swollen. Wendy Lawrence from Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers took the bird into longer term care, in collaboration with WIRES’ raptor specialists.

The Brahminy Kite is frequently sighted along the northern coast of Australia. The adult bird is identified by their beautiful chestnut wings and back with contrasting white head and breast. They feed on fish, small reptiles and insects and have the ability to snatch food from the surface of the water and mid-air and then consume prey while flying.

Thanks to the fisherman who called WIRES, this beautiful young bird will have a second chance at life and will be released back to the wild once it has fully recovered.

Please think of the impact our rubbish has on wildlife. Dispose of broken or leftover fishing line, hooks, lures and nets wisely. Birds such as this Brahminy Kite, together with other birds, platypus, turtles and many more species can easily become entangled when swimming in bodies of water, or foraging on the water’s edge. The ingestion of fishing hooks is sadly common among turtles that see bait as an easy meal. Birds sometimes use fishing line and bits of discarded netting as nesting material, which can lead to entanglement of both the parents and chicks.
Some outlets offer designated fishing gear disposal options. If this is not available please take your rubbish home and dispose of it responsibly. Share your knowledge by educating family and friends about the harmful impacts of improperly discarded fishing tackle.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

Images by Julie Marsh




September 20

With the current drought WIRES is rescuing large numbers of Flying foxes and are in urgent need of rescue cages. The cages in the picture are the only cages suitable for Flying fox rescues.  If you have a cage like the ones in the picture and you would like to donate it to WIRES we would be extremely grateful. Please call 66281898, or send us an email






September 15

Flying-Foxes are in trouble

Have you seen a flying-fox recently in the daytime in a tree?

Or found one dead on the ground?

Large areas of the North Coast of NSW as well as South East Queensland are experiencing what appears to be a severe flying-fox starvation and dehydration event. It is thought that the unusually dry conditions have affected flowering and fruiting of their usual feed trees. Moisture content on foliage is currently very low, fruit and flowers also lack the normal amount of moisture and this is where bats get their nutrition and hydration.

There are many reports of bats being found alone in trees in the daytime not having the energy to return to roost in their colony. Northern Rivers WIRES is receiving more than five times their normal number of flying-fox calls for this time of the year.  They, like all wildlife groups in the area, are stretched to the limit.

With a limited number of volunteer vaccinated bat rescuers, WIRES is asking the public to be understanding in this situation and would like to provide some advice should you see a flying-fox alone:

  • Most importantly, please do not attempt to handle the flying-fox. There is no risk to you if you do not handle the bat.
  • Observe the flying-fox and check if it is actually still alive. Many bats are hanging dead in trees - some are dead on the ground. If it is dead, simply scoop it up in a towel or newspaper and dispose of it
  • If it is alive, DO NOT disturb the flying-fox or attempt to shoo it away. This will just stress it further and make it weaker. It needs to rest and regain strength so it can return to the colony.
  • Keep people and pets such as dogs and cats away so they don’t stress the already compromised animal.
  • If the bat looks sick or injured, or is low down in a particularly public space, phone WIRES on 66281898. They will help assess the situation and determine whether it needs to be brought into care.
  • If the bat appears uninjured and is moving around wait until the following day and see if the animal flies off overnight.
  • If the bat is still there the following day, phone WIRES on 66281898 for advice.
  • If you do want to assist further you can try putting some fruit such as apple or pear in nearby trees, making sure not to go close to the bat. This may in some instances give it the extra nutrition and moisture it needs to survive.

Of course if you find a live bat on a barbed wire fence or entangled in netting please call WIRES immediately and a rescuer will attend.

October to December are the birthing months. This is when females give birth to a single pup which they carry across their chests as it suckles a teat in the mother’s wing pit.  This starvation event could cause more females to get into difficulty birthing and more pups to be separated from their mothers. Please call WIRES if you find a flying-fox pup.

Flying-foxes are very intelligent creatures and play an important role in Australian environments. They are natural pollinators and seed dispersers and are crucial for the survival and regeneration of our native forests. Sadly, this starvation event appears to be yet another indication of the catastrophic affect of a changing climate on our ecosystems. Please do what you can to plant native trees and plants so that in the future our wildlife will have food available to them.

Photo credits – Andrya Hart (close up photo) – Annie Kia (bat in grevillia tree). Both photos were taken at The Channon.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.




September 15

You may remember little Damien, the Echidna Puggle that lost his mum back in late August?
We promised you an update on his progress and here he is.

There is still a long road ahead, he is now 47 days old and still to open his eyes and ears, so far he is thriving in care.

Right now, and for the next 2 months, female echidnas may be carrying either an egg or a very small puggle in her “pouch”. Should you come across an injured echidna please stop and check for a puggle. When mum is injured the puggle may roll away, so please check for what may look like a golf ball nearby. If the Puggle is still in mum’s “pouch” please do not remove it. Transport mum Echidna as well, even if she is deceased.
In all cases please call WIRES straight away for advice and help on 66281898.

Images by Leoni Byron-Jackson




September 12

Fires and Wildlife

With such terrible fires sweeping across NSW and Queensland, including those in our very own Northern Rivers area, WIRES are very aware of the tragic toll on our region’s wildlife. In the event of a major fire, the unfortunate reality is that the majority of wildlife in the immediate area of the fire, those which are unable to escape, generally perish.

Where fires are less intense, however, there is likely to be some animals which are burnt and need immediate critical care. Unfortunately we are not often allowed in to fire areas for some time for safety reasons. However, our wonderful fire fighters do look out for injured wildlife and do liaise with WIRES if required.

Often it is not till much later, after the fires have passed, that wildlife come into care with WIRES. Injured wildlife can be found months after the fires and may move in to populated areas seeking food, water or shelter. Animals might not initially seem injured but may have burns to their feet or tails or may be experiencing smoke inhalation, dehydration or starvation.

This Sugar Glider, fondly named Little Cinders, was found after the Tabulam fires earlier this year. She was found alone inside a hollow tree that collapsed after being burnt out. Little Cinders smelt of smoke but was otherwise in good health. Her family had, however, fled, so she was brought into care with WIRES. Cinders went on to be successfully released.

It is VERY important that any wildlife that is found following a fire is reported to a wildlife group or taken to a vet. Animals will be in need of specialist attention and trained and licensed wildlife carers are best to provide this assistance. Please do not attempt to care for native animals yourself.

There are many ways that people can assist wildlife in distress:

  • If you are living in or near Bushfire affected areas area you can help affected wildlife by leaving water bowls out for wildlife in your garden.  
  • Don't enter fire affected areas to search for wildlife - please leave this to trained personnel
  • If you do find injured wildlife, if it is safe to do so, please wrap the animal in a towel and place in a secure box. The call your local wildlife group (see below) or take the animal to your nearest vet
  • Don't attempt to handle dangerous animals such as koalas, adult kangaroos and wallabies, snakes or bats - always call for help.
  • After the fires, continue to make water available. If wildlife in your area are short of food contact WIRES for advice and assistance.

WIRES Northern Rivers covers the area of the Drake/Ewingar fires – easterly from Drake. Please phone 02 66281898 for wildlife assistance.
For Clarence Valley area please call WIRES on  1300 094 737
Northern Tablelands Wildlife Carers cover the area around Tenterfield. Please phone 0408 555 719.

Thank you all & thank you to our brave volunteer firefighters involved in this crisis.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. Now is the time to contact us in order to attend our October workshop in Lismore. Call WIRES on 66281898 for more information..




September 2

You can help all creatures great and small with very little effort and great rewards.
With the current dry conditions wildlife is in desperate need of water. Shallow bird baths are a lifesaver - put them 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 mosquito's breeding in your garden and ensuring the water is fresh for a thirsty critter in need.

If you would like to join WIRES now is the time to contact us in order to attend our October workshop in Lismore. Call WIRES on 66281898 for more information.




September 3

Sharing some Magpie Love and Understanding

On an extremely windy day at Ballina last week an Australian Magpie's nest fell from a very tall palm tree.
Fortunately, Sandy was outside when it happened and was able to retrieve the nest and rescue the three tiny Magpie chicks.

Sandy attempted to reunite the Magpies with their parents, putting the nest up as high as she could in a nearby bush. The adult birds fed their chicks but abandoned the nest on dusk. Sandy was worried they wouldn't survive the night without the adult bird to keep them warm. She brought them inside and placed them under a heat source.

The next day WIRES was called. The Magpie chicks were alive but not alert. One of the chicks weighed one third of the weight of its two siblings. Sadly, it died soon after.

After two days in care the two remaining chicks were ready to attempt another reunite. Unfortunately it was too late as these adult Magpies had started building another nest. Once they do this any previous chicks are forgotten. These two Magpie chicks would need to be raised in WIRES care and soft released once independent.

After a week the two magpie chicks are thriving and always hungry. Magpie parents have a huge job keeping food up to their chicks in order to raise healthy birds. WIRES volunteers are working hard feeding the growing chicks – along with several other magpie chicks that have since come into care.

Magpie parents also protect their babies with passion. And this is the reason why magpies swoop - they are protecting their eggs and chicks while they are in the nest – a period that lasts approximately 6-7 weeks. Only some birds see people as a threat - most magpies will not swoop.

To reduce your chances of being swooped National Parks and Wildlife Service recommend that you:

  • Stay calm, don't panic.
  • Don't provoke them or throw things at them. This will make them more aggressive.
  • Walk through the magpie' s territory quickly, don't run - or take another route during the swooping period.
  • Wear a hat and glasses or carry an umbrella, eyes on the back of your hat and bicycle helmet.
  • Watch the magpie. Magpies are less likely to swoop if you look at them.
  • Make a sign to warn others.
  • Fit your bicycle with a flag and walk your bike through the bird's territory.


If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.




August 25

Damian was driving along High Street in Goonellabah late last night when he came across an Echidna on the road, obviously in serious trouble; it had been hit by a car. Damian stopped to check the fate of the animal. The Echidna was sadly deceased, but he noticed something moving on her stomach. Damian called WIRES 24 hour hotline for help, and delivered the echidna to WIRES volunteer Leoni. Leoni was able to safely remove a tiny Puggle very much alive from mum’s “pouch”.

July and August is breeding time for echidnas. A soft-shelled egg is laid some time between 10 and 36 days after mating. The female lays her egg by lying on her back, rolling it down her stomach and enveloping it straight into her “pouch”. Echidnas do not actually have a permanent pouch; instead they have contracting muscles in their abdomens, which forms a pouch-like fold.

After 10½ days the young echidna, which is called a puggle, taps on the inside of the egg with what is called an egg tooth to break the soft shell. This is the only tooth the echidna has, and it drops off 1-2 days after hatching. The puggle stays in the “pouch” for 50 days by which time it is developing spines, and mum will have dug a nursery burrow. She will leave the puggle in the burrow and return every 5 to 6 days to feed her young through a series of mammary pores on her stomach. Milk is secreted through these pores and, as with kangaroos and possums, the milk changes according to the growth stage of the young. How clever is that?

Right now, and for the next 2 months, female echidnas may be carrying either an egg or a very small puggle in her “pouch”. Should you come across an injured echidna please stop and check for a puggle. When mum is injured the puggle may roll away, so please check for what may look like a golf ball nearby. If the Puggle is still in mum’s “pouch” please do not remove it. Transport mum Echidna as well, even if she is deceased.

In all cases please call WIRES straight away for help on 66281898.

This tiny bundle is very young - just 26 days ago it hatched from the egg. Its eyes are not yet open, spines are yet to develop and weight is just 67 grams. Little Damian (as it has been named) is comfortable and being fed special Puggle formula. Being so very young its long term fate is as yet uncertain.

Thank you Damian for sparing this little Puggle from being left in his dead mums “pouch” to slowly succumb to the elements.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

Image by Leoni Byron-Jackson




August 25

A big shout- out to Goolmangar General Store for including WIRES in their fabulous shop mural.

If you haven’t checked out the Goolmangar General Store lately, it is well worth a drive.





August 22

While travelling on our roads, sometimes a collision with wildlife is sadly unavoidable. Often though, the animal is still alive and injured.

Therese and Greg witnessed a bird struck by a car travelling in the opposite direction, the car did not stop, so Therese and Greg turned around and drove back in order to check on the fate of the bird. They found a Black-shouldered Kite lying on its back by the road, it was still alive. They took it directly to the nearest vet where it was found to be badly bruised but fortunately not suffering any fractures.

The male kite recovered with WIRES raptor carer Melanie, and was released back to its home territory after 16 days in care.

The Black-shouldered Kite mate for life. During courtship, the male will feed the female in mid-air: she will flip upside down and take food from his feet to hers, while both are flying. They share the household chores such as building their nest.
They hunt during the day, particularly early morning and late afternoon where they seek out rodents and insects. Most of us have seen one hovering above with wings held upright in a V-shape, before dropping down and grabbing prey with its talons.

Where it is safe to do so please stop and check wildlife after a collision, this beautiful bird would have suffered a slow death had it been left by the side of the road. Even if the animal is killed, removing a body from the road will save predator species such as eagles and goannas from becoming yet another road casualty. Remember that if a marsupial it may have uninjured pouch young.

Thank you Therese and Greg for saving the life of this beautiful Black-shouldered Kite.

Image by Melanie Barsony





August 16

Is this spring – already?

Feeling like spring has sprung? You aren't alone. Our feathered friends are feeling the same.

WIRES is already receiving numerous calls about chicks.

Plover chicks are hatching and parents are acting like all parents do, defending their young.

Swallow chicks are popping from their eggs and chirping their way through worms and grubs. Please be patient if they are pooping on something below.

Noisy miner chicks are falling from nests; they are being rescued and reunited.

Ducklings are trotting after their mums and dads... some sadly become separated from parents.

WIRES volunteers are bracing for an early spring - a time when wildlife carers are particularly busy. WIRES would like to remind the public that the best place for any chick is with its parents. If you do find a chick that has fallen from a nest, please contact WIRES on 66281898  for advice.

Most chicks, if they are uninjured and are not cold or dehydrated, can be reunited with their parents. In some cases WIRES will take the chick/s into care for a short while until reuniting is possible.

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

Just orphaned Welcome swallow chick
feeling much better after a good feed in care
Plover chicks found alone
Plover chicks reunited with parents
Orphaned Welcome swallows in care
Orphaned Crested pigeon chick in care
Orphaned ducklings in care
Noisy miner fledgling reunited with parents

Images by Julie Marsh




August 6

Flock of Corellas Mowed Down by Heartless Driver

Late last week WIRES received a call from a distressed resident of East Wardell who had discovered a horrific scene of carnage outside her gate. A motorist had sped along this road, directly into a flock of Corellas.

The scene was distressing, with at least seven birds killed outright. Limp, feathered bodies were strewn along the road. Two Corellas were still alive, and were scooped up by this caring local resident. Sadly, one died shortly after.

The one remaining live Corella was rescued by local WIRES volunteer Bess, and after initial assessment, was transported to Evans Head Vet. Unfortunately its injuries were so great that it died in transit.

Little Corellas are social birds, often seen in large flocks and feeding near watercourses and seeding grasses. They can often be seen frolicking – hanging upside down, spinning and playing. They are thought to pair for life and both partners share in the role of raising their young, which makes it all the more tragic when one of the pair dies or is killed.  

Many larger birds such as Corellas take a bit longer to get airborne than some of our smaller birds, slowing down when approaching the flock allowing them vital time to fly off may have prevented this tragedy and added only a few seconds to the journey.

WIRES thanks all those caring drivers who slow down when they approach wildlife on or near the road… and also all those who stop and assist when animals are injured.






July 14

Last Monday night when this Tawny Frogmouth was out hunting for food it went a bit too close to a paling fence and ended up with its head caught between two palings.

When it was discovered by Dave in the morning it was hanging motionless by the neck and Dave thought it was dead, but as he gently removed it from the fence he realised it was still alive and called WIRES.
A volunteer was soon on the scene and even though the bird had no physical injuries it was unable to fly, it was exhausted and dehydrated and was brought into care.

The Tawny Frogmouth has a lifespan of approximately 14 years, and like so many birds they mate for life. They will maintain and breed in the one territory, for this reason it is important they are returned to where rescued.
These nocturnal birds are carnivorous feeding on insects, bugs, worms, small reptiles, frogs, mice and even small birds at night. During the day they are masters of disguise, roosting in mature trees they blend in perfectly sitting motionless on a branch.

The WIRES hotline receives frequent calls about tawnies that have been hit by cars as they hunt insects illuminated by car headlights.
Sadly rat poison, when present in the prey eaten by Tawny Frogmouths also cause many deaths in urban areas.

If you come across an orphaned or injured native animal please call WIRES on 66281898.

The Tawny was returned home after three days in care.

Thank you Dave for calling WIRES.




Australian theatre at its best -

Edgy, provocative and funny!

Come along to the Special Preview of Extinction
A compelling and relevant play by award winning playwright Hannie Rayson (directed by Richard Vinycomb).
Wednesday 31st July – Mullumbimby Drill Hall
A fundraiser to support local wildlife rescue and care group WIRES Northern Rivers.
Book online to support WIRES

Extinction is set on the windswept coast of southern Australia, where the dense temperate rainforest sweeps down to the blue wilderness of the Great Southern Ocean.
One wild winter night, Harry Jewell is driving along the Great Ocean Road, when he hits an animal. He stops and discovers that the creature is still alive. He picks it up and drives through the storm to a wildlife shelter, where an American zoologist, Dr Piper Ross, is on duty as a volunteer. Harry Jewell recognizes that the animal is a tiger quoll, once common in these parts, but now on the verge of extinction. The quoll dies, but the two of them are bonded by their attempt to save its life.
A week after the quoll incident, Harry Jewell shows up at the CAPE Institute, where he meets with the director, Heather Dixon-Brown. He slaps two million dollars on the table and says that he wants to fund a research project to save the tiger quoll. However, there is a complication.
Harry is the Managing Director of Powerhouse Mining. He has a license to explore the Otways for brown coal.
Meanwhile Heather Dixon-Brown’s brother, Andy is facing his own crisis of mortality. Getting into bed with Big Coal and letting Powerhouse mine the forest, will happen over his dead body.
This is a play about passion, ethics and what it means to live with the shadow of death (our own and other species). Does it matter if the tiger quoll’s days are numbered? Perhaps extinction is just part of the cycle of life or is human intervention necessary? No one in this play is wicked. No one is entirely virtuous. What unites them all is the one urgent question, in the age of global warming, how are we to live?
Tickets are limited so BOOK Tickets are limited so BOOK NOW to reserve your seat and help wildlife at the same time!




July 5

Lucky Duck escapes roasting

Life as a WIRES volunteer certainly presents some challenging rescues.

This week WIRES hotline (66281898) received a call in the Lismore area about noises coming from a chimney. A bird had made its way into the small space, and from the sounds of its distress, it clearly couldn’t get out. With winter in full swing, any animal that unwittingly finds itself in a chimney runs a huge risk of a roasting if the fire is lit.


These rescues are always a challenge for WIRES volunteers, and it isn’t always possible to assist the animal out. This particular chimney had a narrow opening at the bottom - much too narrow for the bird to come all the way down.





However, today was this bird’s lucky day as WIRES volunteer Julie, specialising in birds, was able to attend. Shining a torch up the chimney Julie could see a shape but she was unable to reach it. Clearly this was going to be a messy rescue.

After covering the carpet with an old blanket, all fire making equipment and logs were moved and newspaper was put down to catch the soot. Donning a raincoat herself, Julie chose a strong butterfly-type net with a short handle to manoeuvre into the fireplace and up the chimney. Sounds of the bird could be heard but it was still unclear what type it was.

After three attempts and lots of soot the net was positioned and the bird could be coached down. To the surprise of the rescuer the first thing sighted was a webbed foot. The bird was a male Australian Wood Duck, much too big to come down the chimney without assistance.

After a drink, a rest and a physical assessment no injuries were found

so it was released at a clearing not far from where it was rescued with a group of other Wood Ducks. He wandered up and joined the group without a fuss. 'It was such a pleasure to rescue and release this lucky duck. This is what being a WIRES volunteer is all about' Julie said after a nice warm shower to clear off the soot.

Wood Ducks, like Eastern Rosellas and Kookaburras, are hollow nesting birds. So many of our old trees with perfect nesting hollows have been chopped down, leaving limited places for them to make their homes. Their desperate search for places to breed means that they are likely to look for alternative locations and a dark deep chimney provides just that.

This was the second call in two weeks to WIRES about a duck down a chimney. In the earlier case at Mullumbimby the duck had managed to fall all the way down the chimney and into the house. While it wasn’t trapped it did sustain minor injuries and needed to be taken into care with a WIRES bird carer. It has since been released.

If you live in a house with a chimney it is a good idea, particularly with Spring approaching, to cover the opening at the top with fireproof gauze or mesh to stop birds or other animals from entering. It is also an excellent idea to erect substitute hollows in the form of nesting boxes. The Birds in Backyards website provides plans to build various types of boxes for different species or some of the local Men's Shed groups make them.

Images by Julie Marsh




July 3

This morning while out on her morning walk along Gap Road at Alstonville, Lisa spotted  this Cattle Egret sitting immobile on the road. Lisa rescued the bird and called WIRES.
By the time our volunteer was able to attend at Lisa’s house a few hours later the bird seemed completely recovered having been kept warm dark and quiet.
WIRES volunteer Julie examined the Egret and could not find any injuries, it had obviously recovered so Julie returned to Gap Road with the bird. We suspect it had been clipped by a car and was stunned.

Other Cattle Egrets were in a nearby paddock so she released it there. It flew straight into a Sheoak  tree with wonderful views of the coast.

Julie had a busy morning; she also released a very healthy male Magpie in Goonellabah near the Lismore City Council.
Melissa had come across the magpie sitting immobile on the side of the road yesterday; she took the bird to Vetlove in Goonellabah where it was examined and then called into WIRES emergency hotline. It had been hit by a car and was also stunned and recovered overnight.

Yet another bird, a Blue-faced honeyeater was released today at Byron Bay by WIRES volunteer Deborah, it was called into WIRES emergency hotline two days ago by Mullumbimby vet clinic, rescued by volunteer Lainie, same story as the two above, only this one took two days to recover..

WIRES volunteer Julie commented: It is so good to be able to send them home, the best feeling.

Thank you to Lisa, Melissa and the member of public that rescued the Blue-faced honeyeater, also thank you to the vet clinics involved, for saving the lives of these birds, being stunned may sound like a minor issue, but for a bird it can be fatal without having a safe place to recover.




June 24

WIRES collaborates to save platypus tangled in plastic band

When WIRES heard of the sighting of a platypus with a plastic band around its neck, they knew this was not going to be an easy rescue. A local wildlife enthusiast and avid photographer, Wal Bailey, had managed to photograph the stricken creature, in a photo that clearly indicated what appears to be a bright orange plastic bracelet of the type dispensed at music festivals and events. It wasn’t the only sighting at this local creek and numerous concerned locals and WIRES members have since reported seeing the creature.

WIRES became highly concerned about the welfare of the platypus. Longer term there is an issue of the band tightening as the platypus grows, however the more immediate concern is that the band becomes caught on a snare in the creek as the platypus forages and that it may drown if not able to surface for air. 

Platypus are very secretive creatures, mainly nocturnal but sometimes able to be seen at dusk and dawn. Sighting this individual would be one thing – freeing it from the plastic ring would be a completely different issue. Clearly a major undertaking, WIRES initiated a process of reaching out to relevant agencies for advice, assistance and support in order to help.

National Parks and Wildlife, Department of Primary Industries, Southern Cross University, Lismore City Council and local Landcare group were all contacted, together with the Australian Platypus Conservancy. All consulted were concerned for the welfare of the platypus. An initial trapping effort was organised, with WIRES volunteers assisting to lay nets and monitor them throughout the night. Unfortunately, the initial attempt didn’t manage to catch any platypus.

By now news of this little creature’s plight had spread and an experienced platypus rescuer from University of NSW, Gilad Bino, responded. As a former WIRES member himself, he was keen to come to the assistance of a distressed animal. A second trapping night was organised with Gilad leading the team of WIRES volunteers. Another all-nighter was organised, with three platypus venturing into the traps. Unfortunately, none were the banded individual, so they were simply released.

WIRES hasn’t given up hope of helping the platypus. The location of the platypus cannot be made public as we do not want to disturb it further. However, locals who are familiar with the area and situation are being encouraged to report in to the local WIRES branch (on 66281898) providing times and locations, so that the rescue team can best plan their next trapping event.

The plight of this poor platypus is yet another reminder to the public of the dangers of plastic rings, and the terrible toll that plastic is having on wildlife. Please always dispose of plastics appropriately, and remember to cut any plastic rings and bands, regardless of their size. You might just be saving the life of a platypus. 

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

Image by Wal Bailey





June 21

Sadly it has been a bad week for Owls in the Northern Rivers area.

This week two Barn Owls were badly injured on local roads and both suffered un-treatable wing injuries. Last Sunday a Barking Owl, a threatened species, was found on the ground on a macadamia farm. It had significant wrist fractures and eye injuries most likely caused by a motor vehicle collision, sadly it did not survive.


Today, another threatened species, a Powerful Owl, was found on the ground, it had an old wing injury likely caused by barbed wire; it had not been able to hunt.

Sadly its body condition caused by starvation had deteriorated to a point where it was not able to be saved.






There are things we can do to help our beautiful Owls, firstly slow down on our roads and be aware of nocturnal wildlife such as owls that may be hunting nearby. They are fairly slow to move away when a car approaches so don’t rely on their ability to get out of your way.

Winter is the time of year when feral rats and mice seek entry to houses and sheds. Deterring rats and mice is the best option. Don’t leave pet food out overnight, have rodent proof chicken coops, cover composts and clear up any piles of rubbish that might provide a safe home for rodents. 
Rather than using poisons, set no kill traps or snap traps in places where other animals can't access them, and check the trap every day.
 Please don't use rat baits as they have deadly consequences as the poison enters the food chain when native predatory animals such as owls eat poisoned rats and mice. Rat baits is a silent killer of many species of wildlife.

Habitat destruction and the loss of older trees with hollows, is a major contributing factor to the loss of owls. Protecting large old trees is the best way of helping all our wildlife depending on nest hollows.

You may consider erecting an owl nest box in your garden or farm to encourage owls to your area. Owls will actively help to eradicate rodents, eating 10% of their bodyweight per night. For Barn Owls that is approximately 3 rats, plus an extra two rats for every owlet chick.

Barking Owl

Click link for nest box design for Boobook Owls.



June 7

This majestic juvenile Topknot Pigeon came to grief two weeks ago when attacked by a bird of prey near Dorroughby. It managed to escape but ended up in a creek. Fortunately a couple of young lads witnessed the attack and came to its rescue.

They scooped it out of the creek, took it home and called WIRES.
WIRES volunteer Brad collected the bird that was in obvious distress, Brad quickly made an appointment with Lismore vet clinic where after a thorough examination a superficial wound was found on one wing, however no fractured bones. The bird had lost a large amount of feathers which meant it could not fly.



The Topknot pigeon is much larger than the smaller Crested Pigeon which it is often mistaken for. 



It gets its name from the unmistakable crest on its head.  The crest is shaped by feathers that kind of sprout from the top of the head, one grey set curling forward and down over the birds red bill, the second set of feathers are dusky red and droops back over its neck.


It is unique to Australia but rarely seen in suburban areas. You may find large noisy flocks near rainforests and nearby wet forests and woodlands, especially along moist sheltered gullies, even on the outskirts of urban areas where seasonal native fruits and seeds are available.
Topknot pigeons spend their days high in the top of the forest canopy where they hang from the branches, often upside-down, flapping their wings loudly to keep balance as they seek out and eat small native fruits, berries and seeds from  a large variety of trees such as Native figs, Lillypillies, Bangalow Palms, Blueberry Ash and the introduced Camphor laurel.

The Top knot pigeon has now been in care for 2 weeks with WIRES volunteer avian carer Julie,  its feathers are growing back fairly fast as it is a young healthy bird. Julie estimates that it will be another 4 weeks before it is ready to be returned back to the wild.






WIRES Northern Rivers emergency hotline 66281898 is answered 24 hours 7 days a week. Please call us for advice and injured or orphaned wildlife.

Images by Sharon McGrigor & Julie Marsh




May 28

There are many ways to help orphaned wildlife and assist WIRES volunteers.
As the weather gets cool with winter is just around the corner, WIRES volunteers are in need of extra joey pouches.  

Every orphaned joey, be that a possum, glider, kangaroo, or tiny bandicoot needs a pouch.
You can help by donating pure wool for knitting outer pouches.

You can help by making pouches for orphaned joeys.
There are two kinds of pouches needed, one inner liner made of cotton and an outer pouch made of wool.
The inner liner is changed after each feed resulting in up to 8 pouches being used per joey over 24 hours. If a volunteer carer has multiple joeys in care the number of pouches used over 24 hours can amount to quite a few. The average carer will often have 20-30 pouches in the wash at any given time. The size of pouches varies greatly depending on the stage of development and species of the joey in need. Unfortunately with washing regularly, the life span of a pouch is limited. As such the need for pouches is always great for our volunteer marsupial carers.

You can help by sewing inner cotton liners:
Material: Pure cotton, washable material only (we are unable to use pouches made from synthetic materials as the joeys cannot breathe in closed synthetic pouches)
There is no one perfect size, these dimensions provide a guide:
 Small - 18cm wide x 20cm long when finished (after sewing together)
Large - 24cm wide x 30cm long when finished (after sewing together)

You can help by knitting outer woolen pouches:
 Material: 8 ply pure wool (we are unable to use pouches made from synthetic materials as the joeys cannot breathe in closed synthetic pouches)
Knitting: Pouches should be knitted in plain (garter) stitch both sides
Needles: Size 8 needles (old UK sizing) or new UK size 4mm metric needle size
There is no one perfect size, these dimensions provide a guide:
 Small - 18cm wide x 20cm long when finished (after sewing together),
Large - 24cm wide x 30cm long when finished (after sewing together)
Closed on the two longer sides and one end, and left open at the top.


Donated knitting wool, pouches or liners can be posted to:

PO Box 1356 Lismore NSW 2480.

We can also arrange pick up in Northern Rivers area, just send an email to
 or call our emergency hotline on 66281898.



May 23

Worried about the future of the environment? Get in and help make a difference to wildlife!

Concerned about our wildlife in the face of increased land clearing, expanding mining and global warming?

Get active and join with like-minded people who are collaborating to make a difference.

This week is National Volunteers Week (20-24th May). It is an opportunity to consider how you can volunteer just a little of your time each week to help relieve the distress, and save the lives, of injured and orphaned wildlife. Every little contribution, big and small, makes a huge difference to the life of each bird and animal that has met with tragedy.  Creatures like this very special Greater Glider, a threatened species, that was rescued from a barb wire fence at Dyraaba this week.

Wildlife rescue requires a team effort. There are those who answer phone calls from the public and organise a response. There are those who rush to the rescues and transport creatures to carers or all-important vets. There are those who feed little hungry mouths around the clock and others who help gather native foods. There are those who help build cages and nest boxes, and those who knit pouches. There are those who assist with fundraising activities, those who give talks in schools; those who cater at training days; and those who do the many administrative roles that keep things running smoothly. Every single contribution is important in saving wildlife.

A review of the volunteer wildlife rehabilitation sector, conducted by the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH)* in 2018/19 found that:

  • An average of 104,000 animals are rescued in NSW each year
  • More than 1,000,000 native animals have been rescued by volunteers since the year 2000.
  • There are 5600 volunteer fauna rehabilitators in NSW
  • Wildlife organisations respond to over 180,000 calls from the community each year. They provide important free advice and education in addition to their core function of animal rescue and rehabilitation.
  • The annual value of services contributed by rehabilitators who responded to the survey is about $27 million. The true value is likely to far exceed this figure

WIRES is always in need of more volunteers and they are running their mid-year training on June 2nd . If you act now there is still time to complete the online component of the course before the workshop.

Join WIRES today and start saving little lives.
For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898 or email

Image by Fred Beckhous




May 16

This Green Tree frog was found sitting fully exposed on the lawn in broad daylight at Broadwater. A  Butcher bird was watching intently nearby. 
Green Tree Frogs are nocturnal and are more often heard than seen, they much prefer cool dark places. They have a habit of taking up residence in and around suburban houses, in drain pipes, water tanks, letterboxes and even toilet bowls.
The exposed frog was quickly rescued by Nina. It was brought into care with WIRES as Nina noticed straight away that it had a leg injury, it had lost two toes and was obviously not well.

WIRES volunteer Marion consulted the vet and it was decided that Marion would keep “Froggy” in care under observation for 3 - 5 days. Marion would be watching for a crush injury, or possible die-back in the area of the missing toes. Luckily there was none, “Froggy” just needed a good rest in order to heal.
Within days he was hopping around in his intensive care enclosure chasing crickets supplied by Marion. By the time he was released 6 days later back home at Broadwater, he had gained 27 gram.

Marion said: He’s one of the most endearing animals I’ve had in care.

"Froggy" looking very please as he is about to go home.

Green Tree Frogs are sometimes called the “The smiling croaker.” They can live for 16 to 20 years in captivity. In the wild, their lives are shorter due to predators.

Green tree frogs are amphibians, which mean they have a double life. At the tadpole stage they live in water and breathe through gills. As adults they breathe with lungs and live on land.  A healthy environment is one where lots of frogs can be heard regularly, if frogs are suddenly missing from an area it tells us that their/our environment is changing. This could mean a change in the quality of the air we breathe or the water we drink.

The Green Tree Frog population, like many frogs, has suffered a decline over recent years. The main danger to the Green Tree Frog is the destruction of habitat as well as chemical use.

Images by Marion Nel




May 14

Echidna Season is Here

WIRES is currently receiving a large number of calls for Echidnas hit and injured by cars.

As the weather gets cooler, Echidnas become more active and travel further afield, looking for a mate. If you are very lucky you might see as many as 10 Echidnas walking in a line. This is called an Echidna train. The female is in the lead with males behind, in order of size. She may lead them around for 6 weeks before choosing a mate.

Unfortunately, this increased activity makes Echidnas more vulnerable on our roads. Please be alert if you are on the road between dusk and dawn to avoid injuring a wandering Echidna. Echidnas don't move very quickly, so please slow down to allow them to safely cross - and keep an eye out for injured animals that may be on the side of the road.

Echidnas aren’t easy animals to handle! The Echidna's sharp spines cover its back and each individual spine has a muscle attached to its base, giving the animal control over the movement and direction of its spines and enabling it to anchor itself firmly onto many surfaces by using the erect spines.

If you find an Echidna on the road, it may have been hit and injuries are not always apparent. If you can, cover the animal with a towel and move it off the road, you may just save its life. Please stay with the animal and call WIRES straight away. Do not put the Echidna in your car uncontained as it may bed itself in and be very difficult to remove. When you ring the local WIRES Hotline (66 28 1898), a WIRES volunteer will talk you through the situation and explain how you can contain the animal until a rescuer arrives. If you are able to safely transport the Echidna to a WIRES volunteer, it is very important to note where you found it as WIRES always aim to return each animal to their home territory where they are likely to have a burrow.

The WIRES hotline also receives many calls about Echidnas that are spotted in house yards. Sometimes the animal has “dug in” or rolled into a ball. This is the Echidna’s way of defending itself when it feels insecure and in danger. The best solution is to leave the Echidna alone, remove the threat (usually the family dog) and the Echidna will go on its way once it feels confident to do so. Echidnas have a great memory, and it is unlikely that it will return after a frightening experience.




May 5

The Ringtail possum is probably the best known possum to most of us as it is commonly seen in back yards climbing trees at night in search of food such as eucalypt leaves, fresh new buds of native trees, flowers and fruit. It lives in rainforests, eucalypt forests, shrubby woodland, and have adapted to suburban gardens.

This evening two little female Ringtail siblings ventured out of their enclosure after having been in care since early January when one was found wondering alone at Skinners Shoot near Byron Bay. Ringtails rarely have just one joey, luckily the second joey was found shortly after and the siblings were united. They were much too young to be away from their mum and was taken into care by WIRES. Sadly mum was never found.

After 4 months in care they are now ready to go back to the wild, they are seen here venturing out of their enclosure into the big trees close by.

The road back to the wild is getting shorter, they can now choose to return to their enclosure, or come back at daybreak to their new home supplied by their WIRES volunteer.

As exciting as today was for these two Ringtails, it was a day of loss for another little Ringtail joey.  Sometime last night or early this morning she lost her mum at Alstonville.  No sibling was found, it appears she has lost mum while they were out and about last night, little Mini as she had now been named may have been a bit too adventurous.

Often we can reunite joeys with their mum; sadly in both of these cases this was not possible.
Mini’s journey back to the wild has just started, it will end in about 4 months’ time when she takes that first leap of faith out of her enclosure with other Ringtail joeys that are already in WIRES care and others we sadly know will arrive in the near future.

Ringtail joeys stay in the pouch until about 4 months old and then mum carries them on her back whilst she forages for food at night. Survival rate is diminished once they leave the pouch, predators are many and include dogs, cats, python snakes, foxes, the powerful owl and many are also killed on our roads by cars.

Images by Barbara Wilkins & Jeanette Dundas




Wildlife warriors in PJs – and YOU could be one!

It CAN be easy being green! Kick back with a cuppa while you help local wildlife. Join WIRES!

When you think about wildlife warriors you may be thinking of wrestling a possum from the jaws of a dog... or perhaps scooping a helpless little wallaby joey from its dead mum’s pouch.... or shepherding a family of ducklings across busy roads to a nearby creek... or climbing a tree to reunite a tiny squawking chick with its siblings.

But not all our wildlife warriors are the Indiana Jones type.  Sure, there are the snake handlers, specially trained to wrangle serpents (venomous and non-venomous alike)... and even those brave enough to tackle an injured goanna with its six scary defensive weapons. Most wildlife heroes, however, are just really wonderful humans who care about our wildlife and want to make a difference and save little lives.

The hidden heroes of the wildlife world are the intrepid souls who woman and man the 24 hour, 7 day a week, 365 day a year hotline. They are the wildlife warriors in PJs – saving wildlife from the comfort of their own loungeroom. It is a great feeling to be able to put your feet up and kick back with a cup of tea, answer the phones and know that you have helped rescue a whole range of creatures in a single 2 or 4 hour shift.

WIRES Northern Rivers run a 24 hour hotline that takes calls from the public night and day, providing advice on human/wildlife encounters and, where needed, organising rescues. With a dynamic team of about 30 volunteers, this group run a local ambulance service for our native animals.

All WIRES Hotliners are trained wildlife rescuers and so they know how to deal with rescue calls. They also receive extra training so that they are well prepared to take calls from the public.

While you may not have to speed to the scene of an animal rescue, there is still an adrenalin rush and a huge sense of satisfaction when, for instance, you can coach someone through picking up an echidna and moving it out of danger till a rescuer arrives – or calm someone down who has seen a snake – or talk someone through the process of reuniting a chick with its family.

WIRES is always in need of more volunteers. 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 June 2nd and there is time beforehand to complete the online part of the course.

Mountain brushtail twins being cared for by WIRES volunteer

For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.






Stormy Weather for Wedge-tailed Shearwaters

During the Easter weekend conditions off the North Coast of NSW were not ideal for the fledgling Wedge-tailed Shearwaters that had begun their migration north from their burrows on Muttonbird Is. Coffs Harbour. The conditions were windy, wet and wild. 

Each year during April the Shearwaters aka Muttonbirds begin their migration to the Northern hemisphere.
Once the weather settled, Wedge-tailed Shearwaters were found inland at unlikely locations; Tatham, New Italy and Nashua. When Shearwater comes to ground they are unable to get lift off to fly. They were in trouble.WIRES received calls to rescue these exhausted birds.

After 5 – 7 days in care, and a diet of fish 2 of these birds had regained their strength and were ready for release.
Two nights ago the conditions were perfect at Lennox Headland as Shearwaters need a windy elevated location to take off.

The birds were silent on route, but as we neared the coast they became quite vocal. It was as though they could smell the sea and their instincts to migrate north had kicked in again.
At the release location the Wedge-tailed Shearwaters emerged from their enclosure and immediately began to preen and flex their wings

It is now up to them to continue on their journey north.

Yet another Wedge-tailed Shearwater has recovered and is being released tonight.

Thank you to the members of public who called WIRES to rescue these birds, giving them a second chance. It has been a pleasure experiencing these amazing birds.

By Julie Marsh




April 29

Lorikeets are seen across our region every day; their arrival is usually loud and spectacular.

Sadly over the past few years, multiple lorikeets (predominately Rainbow but also some Scaly-breasted) presented with what is now called Lorikeet syndrome.
These lorikeets present with varying symptoms: mild cases can appear similar to concussion with unco-ordination and inability to fly. Severe cases will display staggering, paralysis, change to voice (croaky sounding) fully dilated pupils and inability to blink. All appear to be adults with good feather condition, but most are underweight.
When these birds are brought into care, WIRES volunteers closely monitor their symptoms whilst they are kept in Intensive hospital care enclosures. After fluid therapy some can self-feed, others need help feeding. Lorikeets unable to blink must have eye ointment applied 2 to 4 times a day until they start blinking again.

Their stages of recovery are closely monitored and they are moved on to the next treatment stage when ready.  Sadly some lorikeets are so severely affected that they die within 24 hours. The time taken for each treatment stage relies on the individual birds recovery rate. They may need to be in intensive care for up to one week, next stage hospital cage for another week before being transferred to a flight aviary where they may spend up to four weeks before being fully recovered.

These three Scaly-breasted lorikeets had spent 6 weeks in care before finally being released back to the wild. Many have been released over the past few years, more are coming in daily. Should you find a lorikeet in trouble, please call WIRES straight away 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 our next workshop will be held in Lismore on June 2nd 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.

Image by Marion Nel




April 27

Bandy-Bandy snakes don’t often get harmed & live to tell the tail.... This one was lucky.

WIRES was contacted when this little Bandy Bandy snake was found on a driveway obviously not well. After examination it was thought that a cat had most likely been involved due to small puncture wounds found on the snakes body.

The Bandy Bandy (Vermicella annulata) is a nocturnal hunter, feeding almost exclusively on Blind Snakes. During the day, the Bandy Bandy can be found under logs, or burrowed deep into the earth throughout Eastern and far northern Australia. On humid or rainy nights you may be lucky and see one crossing the road. When threatened it uses its body to create spectacular vertical loops off the ground. 

An egg laying species, females lay between 2 - 15 eggs. Not a lot is known about the toxicity of Bandy Bandy but it is believed to be only mildly venomous to humans. As always apply first aid and seek urgent medical attention for all suspected snake bites.  They grow to less than one meter, making them one of our smaller snake species.

This little fellow was released back to the wild on Anzac day after veterinary treatment and recovery with WIRES for two weeks.

Although a snake may not seem particularly injured after a cat attack, most often there are puncture wounds that if not treated can be fatal some time later. If you suspect your cat may have injured a native animal including snakes, please call WIRES on 66281898 for advice.

Images by Marion Nel




April 1

Tiger’s Easter Egg Adventure

As Easter approaches many of us will be thinking of chocolates and, more specifically, Easter eggs. However just as eggs form part of our dietary intake, this is true also for many of our native animals, including the Lace monitor – also often referred to as Goannas.  

WIRES recently had a call out to a Lace monitor that had been caught red handed raiding a chicken coop. Typically WIRES would advise to open the coop and allow the Goanna to make a hasty retreat - however this case was a bit different.  

Lachlan, the chicken keeper, had placed six golf balls in his laying boxes to encourage the chooks to lay there. The golf balls were nowhere to be seen so Lachlan had closed the door and called WIRES.  

Rescuers Martin and Brett attended and collected “Tiger” the Goanna and promptly took him to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for X-rays and assessment. The six golf balls and three chook eggs were clearly visible. Guilty as charged! 

The question now was whether to operate or see if the balls would pass through the lizard of their own accord. Also, whether the coating on the balls could withstand the strong digestive acids in the stomach. 

While this was being pondered overnight, Tiger had a plan of his own. He managed to regurgitate all six balls and the eggs overnight, which was fortunate for all concerned as surgery would have required fostering and care for Tiger over the winter months. It is thought that the regurgitation may well be a stress response and that left to his own devices the outcome may not have been as favourable. Tiger was able to be released back to his home the following day.

Lace monitors are the second largest of the Australian goannas and are relatively common in the Northern Rivers. They feed mostly on reptiles, birds, eggs, insects and are opportunistic scavengers. Equally adept on the ground or high in the trees they are active in the warmer months and tend to lay low and take cover for winter. 

WIRES receives many calls for reptiles that have eaten plastic eggs and of course many more would go unreported or mysteriously disappear.  A python that has eaten a placebo egg will most likely suffer a painful end to life with a blocked digestive system.  

If you have chickens and need to prompt your hens to lay in set locations, WIRES recommends you avoid using plastic replicas and simply leave one of the real eggs in the laying spot to encourage the chooks to lay there. Marking the dud eggs with a texter is recommended, or rotate the egg daily, marking it with a food dye so no eggs go to waste.

By Martin Fitzgerald




March 21

Pam had observed a possum for two days prior to discovering it behind her fridge on the deck. It was wedged into a small cavity behind a metal plate hiding with wiring all around it.

WIRES was contacted and after removing the metal plate and coaxing the possum out with kitchen spatulas a very dehydrated and hungry possum joey still very much dependent on mum for survival, was put into a snuggly pouch to hide in and taken into care.
She was examined and found to have no injuries. Considering she had been seen for two days with no mum in sight, she had obviously somehow lost mum and tried to find shelter.
Once hydrated she was given possum formula which she readily drank as well as some native foliage which is her favourite and native food.

Kell as she has been named (she was found in a Kelvinator fridge) will be ready for release in about 4 months’ time. She will join other Common Brushtails of the same stage of development in care, and once old enough to fend for themselves, they will be released back to the wild as a little family group.

Images by Lib Ruytenberg & Jeanette Dundas




March 19

WIRES celebrates World Frog Day

Listen, can you hear it? There’s a joyous chorus of song ringing out all throughout the region. The frogs of Northern Rivers are singing, and it’s not just the recent rain that they’re celebrating. The 20th of March is World Frog Day, a day to celebrate all things froggy and to raise awareness about these amazing creatures, the challenges they face and their ecological importance. 

Australia is home to 230 species of frogs, they occupy a huge range of habitats and environmental niches. The diversity among them is quite incredible, but one thing they all share is their sensitivity to the quality of their environment. This attribute is what makes frogs such vital environmental indicators, the “canaries in the coal mine” so to speak. If the places they inhabit become degraded and polluted, or are altered by a rapidly changing climate, frogs are among the first to be impacted. 

Indeed, in recent decades frog species have faced alarming extinction rates. Habitat destruction, the spread of the deadly chytrid fungus, and a fast changing climate are all major factors that have contributed to the devastating mass extinctions. Many remaining species are vulnerable and endangered, occurring only in tiny patches of remnant habitat and are dangerously close to being lost forever like so many others who have disappeared before them.

Now more than ever frogs and the environment they depend on need protecting, so, what can we do to help?

  1. Be mindful of what you use around the home and garden: many of the chemicals we use make their way into our waterways and can be deadly to frogs and tadpoles. Forgoing the use of nasty chemicals or using environmentally friendly alternatives helps frogs and the environment.
  2. Create and restore habitat: planting locally native plants in your own backyard is a great way to help your local frogs and other wildlife will thank you for it too. Get involved with a local frog club or landcare project to help restore critical habitat in your local area.
  3. Frogs are brown and bumpy too: did you know? There are 44 species of native frogs found throughout the Northern Rivers region, only 8 of these species are green and the remaining 36 are brown, mixed coloured and/or bumpy. Among these 36 native species are many of our most vulnerable frogs, so it’s important to know your native frogs and be sure not to mistake them for cane toads. Check out the key features that identify cane toads and how to humanely euthanise and dispose of them on the NSW Office of Environment and Heritage website 
  4. Make like a frog and get vocal! Stand up for frogs and the environment they depend on. Write to your local member of parliament to let them know that you want to see changes in policy and law that ensures better protection for our environment. Join a group that campaigns to protect your local wetlands and waterways. Most importantly, share your love of frogs and nature with your friends, family and anyone who will listen! 

Happy world frog day!

Fleay's Barred Frog native to Northern Rivers

Tusked Frog, endangered species and native to Northern Rivers

If you are keen to make a difference for the wildlife in our area, consider joining WIRES. For more information about how you can join and contribute call 66281898.

By Hannah Coffey

Images by Marion Nel, Kathy Grieveson & Sue Ulyatt




March 12

Goannas find their food by searching widely across the landscape, and that is probably what this 6.5 kg Lace Monitor was doing on the 20th January at McLeans Ridges when he tried to cross the road and was hit by a car.

Being carrion eaters he may also have been looking for an easy meal such as a dead animal in the middle of the road. If safe to do so please stop and remove any dead animals off the road, as other animals are easily injured as they feed on carrion.

A passing motorist saw him lying in the road and called WIRES. Volunteers Marion and Merryn attended the rescue; sadly the Goanna was in a bad way. He was driven straight to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital by reptile handler Marion where he was treated primarily for jaw fracture and brain trauma.

He was named Dr McLean at CWH after he left his mark on a staff member whilst being treated for injuries.... It was a close call for this magnificent animal and he stayed in hospital till 11th February.

He was collected with an ongoing medication plan by Marion. A very strong and fierce animal, administering his meds and handling is a two person job and Marion is assisted by WIRES Northern Rivers volunteer reptile team.

Soft foods were gradually introduced and his appetite has now returned. He is undergoing more tests back at CWH in the next few days to monitor his progress.

Goannas primarily prey on birds, snakes and seek the eggs of both. They will also opt for an easy meal and feed on carrion. Using their long forked tongues which they flick in and out, they pick up scent in the air and on the ground. Goannas then "read" these scents with a special organ in the roof of the mouth, much like a snake does.

Found in all regions of Australia, the Goanna is an excellent climber, and a strong swimmer. Goannas are largely terrestrial and digs its own burrow system but will readily take refuge in a tree if a burrow is not nearby.

Dr McLean will likely remain in care over winter and will hopefully return to his home teritory at McLeans Ridges come spring.

Here he is in his enclosure, showing major improvement

By Marion Nel




WIRES Celebrates World Wildlife Day 

Sunday 3rd March is World Wildlife Day – a day when the United Nationals encourages us to celebrate the extraordinary diversity of fauna and flora and to remind us of the urgent need to fight against wildlife crime and human induced reduction of species.

WIRES know all too well the impact that our activities as humans are having on wildlife. WIRES volunteers give their time 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year to help sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.

With around 200 active local volunteers, WIRES members perform daily miracles, rescuing animals that are entangled in fences and rubbish, those that have fallen in pools, those that are hit by cars, and those that collide with windows. Daily they see the injuries sustained by dogs and cats. Working closely with local vets they nurse animals back to health after disease and illness. They feed young orphaned joeys – possums, wallabies, pademelons, gliders, bandicoots and many other creatures around the clock. And they reunite many, many chicks that have become separated from their parents or fallen from their nests.

On World Wildlife Day, take the opportunity to come and meet and chat to WIRES members about what they do and how you can help!

WIRES will have a display and information table in the Lismore Quadrangle on Sunday 3rd January from 11-1pm as part of wider celebrations (hosted by Nature NSW). This is a family friendly day with stall speakers and live music.


  • WIRES is a State-wide organisation with Branches throughout NSW
  • The Northern Rivers Branch of WIRES operates from Crabbes Creek in the North East, to New Italy in the South East and Drake in the West. It covers the local government areas of Byron, Ballina, Lismore, Kyogle and Richmond Valley shires.
  • In 2017-18 WIRES Northern Rivers received more than 7,600 calls - up 2% on the previous year.
  • Around 50% of calls related to birds that are either sick, injured or separated from their parents
  • One third of calls are from the Lismore Local Government area
  • Most animals come into care from urban areas.
  • A call to the LOCAL WIRES Hotline 66281898 is answered 24/7 by a local WIRES volunteer
  • WIRES relies heavily on the generosity of caring people for support. All donations $2 and over are tax deductible.




February 28

A very special joey comes into care with WIRES

Being a wildlife carer can be full of surprises. New arrivals can happen at any time of the day or night. Every now and then an extraordinary creature comes into care, emphasising just how important looking after orphaned animals is.

Last week WIRES received a call from the Tabulam area from a MOP who had been handed a very tiny joey. The mother had been caught in a possum trap, and when she was released she quickly disappeared, leaving her joey behind. Not sure what the animal was, she phoned WIRES, thinking it was a Potoroo. Initial photos were blurry and identification was difficult… but once the little joey arrived in care it was clear what it was – a little female Rufous Bettong.

Listed as a vulnerable species in NSW, it is thought that their numbers are decreasing rapidly due to fox and feral cat predation and habitat loss. WIRES Northern Rivers has had only six bettongs in care since 2014, with none for the last 3 years.  This little joey is furred but weighs only 240g.

Looking a little like a cross between a mouse or rat, a bandicoot, a possum and a wallaby, the Rufous Bettong is part of the Rat kangaroo family or Potoroids, which also include Potoroos and Musky rat kangaroos. Adult weight is just 1- 3.5kg.

The Rufous Bettong sleeps during the day in conical grass nests built on a shallow depression at the base of a grass tussock or a fallen log in relatively open forest with dense grassy cover.

Their long nails allow them to dig for their preferred diet of roots and tubers. They feed on grasses such as Blady Grass (Imperata cylindrica) and various species of native herbs, tubers, roots, fungi and some insects.

An important part of their diet is truffles, which are the spore-bearing bodies of underground fungi. Those fungi (called ectomycorhizal fungi) associate with the rootlets of trees such as eucalypts, helping the tree to take up minerals from the soil. By digging up and eating the truffles, bettongs disperse those spores in their dung, helping the fungi to spread to new hosts. In that way bettongs play an important role in ecosystems.

Apart from mothers with young, they nest solitary in the wild. They have a prehensile tail which they use to carry grasses gathered for their multiple nest sites built by individual animals enabling them to flee to a new site should a predator approach.

Due to European settlement, clearing of agricultural land and introduction of foxes, rabbits, hares, cats and dogs the Potoroids have not done well. They have much reduced ranges and two of the 10 species are now extinct.

Just 250 gram and already spending time out of pouch, rushing back as soon as there is a disturbance.

By Renata Phelps




February 27

On the 2nd Feb WIRES received a call that a very large strange looking chick had been rescued.  The chick sitting in the middle of a rural road at Casino had just avoided being run over by a large truck when a motorist stopped to rescue it.

The bird was identified as a Channel-Billed Cuckoo, the largest brood parasite bird in the world. As a fully grown adult the cuckoo has a wingspan of approx. 1 metre in flight.
The WIRES volunteer went to the site of rescue in search of the chicks surrogate parents or nest; sadly there was no sign of either, so the chick was not able to be reunited with its host parent’s.

The Channel-billed Cuckoo lays its eggs in the nests of the Australian Magpie, the Pied Currawong, and members of the crow family.  As an adult the Channel-billed Cuckoo is mainly a fruit eater but as a chick the Currawong and Crow diet is perfect for this large bird.

The Channel-Billed Cuckoos arrive in northern and eastern Australia in spring from New Guinea and Indonesia flying as far south as Sydney. In autumn they leave Australia flying the thousands of kilometres back as far north as Celebes and eastward to Bismarck Archipelago.

The chick has done well in WIRES care and doubled its weight in the first 8 days, shortly after it was perching and less than 4 weeks in care it is self-feeding and in a large flight aviary building up flight strength before release and finally flying thousands of kilometres back north.

By Julie Marsh




February 13

Shooting to save a life! WIRES, RSPCA and Vet collaborate to help tangled magpie.

Even small pieces of rubbish can cause untold suffering for our native wildlife. This poor juvenile magpie had its leg entangled in twine and wire which then became snared in a branch high in a tree in Casino.

In its panic to escape, the magpie ended up helplessly hanging upside down, flapping desperately. It was in this predicament, all the while suspended by one leg, for at least 18 hours.

The parent magpie was worriedly keeping a close eye on her entangled chick. WIRES bird specialist, Melanie, had grave fears that the magpie would have suffered severe injuries to its leg.

The magpie was approximately two stories high in the tree, way too high to reach. After many phone calls to various organisations, unfortunately no local cherry pickers were available to assist. But all was not lost. Casino police made contact with Alistair from the RSPCA, who fortunately was able to come to assist.

 As a licensed shooter, Alistair carefully assessed the situation and decided it might be possible to bring down both the branch and the bird with a shot. It took incredible skill and three shots to get through the branch, before both the limb and magpie tumbled to the ground. There was a moment of panic when the magpie became free while still attached to the rubbish and flew off, but it was caught again by WIRES volunteer, Melanie.

Elizabeth at Central Vet Care Clinic, Casino, conducted an examination and fortunately there were no fractures to the magpie’s leg. It appeared to have a normal range of movements, despite being extremely sore. After some subcutaneous fluids to rehydrate, the magpie is now slowly recovering in WIRES care.

Where there is a will there is a way, and rescues such as this illustrate how important collaboration is in solving complicated rescue situations. They also illustrate just how important it is to dispose of rubbish thoughtfully.

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 Melanie Barsony




February 8

Last Saturday WIRES NR Hotline  66281898 received a phone call from Lismore Vet Clinic that a bird had been brought into the clinic and was ready to be taken into care, it was suffering from concussion. The WIRES volunteer that took the bird into care was very excited to find it was a Black-faced Monarch, a bird that rarely comes into care.

Black-faced Monarch’s fly across Torres Strait from their wintering grounds in southern New Guinea to their breeding areas in eastern Australia where they can be found in rainforests, eucalypt woodlands, coastal scrub and damp gullies. Only the female builds the nest which is  deep and cup shaped made up of casuarina needles, bark, roots, moss and spider web. The nest is usually located in the fork of a tree, 3 m to 6 m above the ground where both sexes incubate the eggs, feed and raise their young.

After 24 hours in care the monarch was very spritely so was given a flight test. Sadly the little bird could not sustain flight, it needed more time.
After two days and still no improvement in flight the bird was returned to Lismore Vet Clinic where x-rays were taken and sent to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for assessment. The x-rays revealed a slight displacement of one shoulder. The monarch needed more rest.
Each day the monarch became more active and it certainly had an appetite, devouring lots of specialised food daily.

After 5 days in care it was finally able to sustain normal flight and the following day it was released  where it had been found at Caniaba.
Thank you to the unknown person for rescuing this bird and taking it to Lismore vet clinic thus giving this beautiful bird a second chance.

If you come across an injured bird/ critter on the road contain it in a box with a soft cloth and phone Wires Northern Rivers hotline 02 66281898.
It's handy to carry a box with a soft cloth and a towel in the car just in case you come across an injured animal.

By Julie Marsh




February 2

Cattle Egret Disaster Update:

You may have seen our earlier post from 9 January regarding the severe storms that ripped across north eastern NSW just before Christmas causing havoc within a Cattle Egret breeding colony at Lawrence near Grafton. WIRES volunteers from Clarence Valley,Mid North Coast and Northern Rivers joined local resident Elizabeth in the huge task of saving the 300 chicks in trouble.

Due to the ongoing drought, the water level in the lake at Lawrence has dropped, but is still supporting many species of birds and egrets both young and old.

The oldest of the chicks rescued and taken into care with volunteers has now been released at the Lawrence colony. Some egrets flew straight out of the transport cages, others walked out and then one flew into the trees. Three just wandered around, looking for insects on the ground, then flew into a nearby tree with a group of other egrets and nesting cormorants and settled in quietly.


There are many egrets still in care, the next oldest chicks are now in a large aviary 'finishing school' honing their flying and foraging skills getting ready for release back at Lawrence in the next couple of weeks.




January 31

Fishing line and hooks harm wildlife

WIRES volunteers responded to two separate calls on the same day this week from people who had spotted flying-foxes entangled in fishing line over water. One was over a canal in Ballina; the other over a creek in Wollongbar.  By chance, our volunteers still had a canoe on their roof racks after returning from holidays, and were able to respond immediately.

By the time they arrived on the scene of the first flying-fox it had freed itself from the line, despite having been partially submerged and having a lure sill embedded in her wing. The injured flying-fox sought refuge in a mass of spiky vines on the bank of the canal, presenting quite a challenge for the WIRES volunteers. However they soon managed to contain the injured animal.


The flying-fox at the second scene was about 4 metres above the water and the canoe was needed.





Two WIRES volunteers in the canoe were assisted by a member of the public who steadied the canoe against the buffeting wind







After some manipulation of long handled rescue tools, the young flying-fox was cut from her entanglement and gently placed into a rescue bag. Both flying-foxes required urgent medical attention.

At both locations, carelessly discarded fishing line and hooks were abundant, particularly in the branches of a large Figtree with abundant ripe fruit overhanging the Wollongbar swimming hole.  Figs are among the favourite fruits for flying-foxes, so the fishing line was an accident waiting to happen.  The WIRES volunteers and their teenage son revisited the site the next day to remove some of the fishing tackle to minimise the chance of further injury to wildlife.

Veterinary attention was sought for the two Flying-foxes at Currumbin Wildlife Hospital. Staff there reported that they have at least one case per week of flying-foxed caught in fishing line, and two waterbirds (on average) a day which have become entangled in fishing line or hooks. 

WIRES Northern Rivers is frequently called upon to rescue wildlife which has become entangled in fishing line. These rescues are usually quite challenging for our volunteers and can be fatal for our wildlife due to injuries sustained or if not rescued in time. 

Fishing is a relaxing sport for many. Please ensure this sport does not turn deadly for our wildlife by leaving rubbish behind. If you see any discarded or entangled line or hooks while out swimming or boating, do take the time to help collect and remove it. You may just save a little life.

Images by Ema Purcell and Sharon McGrigor




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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. I don’t have a car or transport –WIRES often need locations for people to drop animals in to – particularly in our busy towns.
  5. 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.




January 15

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.




January 11

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




January 8

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.






January 4

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









































































































Updated January 1 2019  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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