Helping injured wildlife
THERE are sometimes experiences we have in life that serve to remind us of the good things that people in our community do, quietly and without recognition. I had one such experience on Christmas Day. My daughter was on her usual morning bike ride when she came across a driver on Mansfield road who had stopped to move an injured koala from the middle of the road, where it had been left by the previous person who had hit it.
My daughter stopped to assist and told this caring person that she knew who to contact for assistance.
As my daughter was on the phone to me to get the phone number of a local registered wildlife carer, with whom I had had previous contact, by good luck this very carer drove past and stopped to offer assistance.
He and his partner were, in fact, on their way to a family Christmas function in Geelong.
Despite this, they willingly offered to take the koala back to their sanctuary to give it the assessment and care it needed, 30 minutes away, which would have made them very late for their family function.
My daughter offered our place nearby as an alternative, reassuring them that we would contact vets and other carers to get help.
The injured koala was put in a cool, enclosed shed and given water.
It was clear that the injuries were severe and that it needed sedation and pain relief, at the very least.
I attempted to contact our local vets, but naturally the surgeries were closed.
I was able to contact one who was also on his way to a family Christmas function, however, he took the time to offer advice and said that I could bring it in to the surgery the next day.
I then attempted to contact the other registered carer I know, who was also unavailable.
Christmas Day is possibly the worst day for wildlife to be needing help.
I then made a phone call to Wildlife Victoria, not feeling very confident that anyone would be on duty on this day, expecting an answering service.
To my relief, I was immediately speaking to a volunteer who took the details and assured me that she would do everything possible to get assistance.
We both agreed that tomorrow would be too late for this suffering creature.
Wildlife Victoria has the ability to send out an urgent text message to all carers within a 30 km radius to seek assistance.
Within 10 minutes of hanging up, I was contacted by a registered wildlife carer from the Strathbogie area.
She offered to come out immediately to collect the koala.
She could give it sedation and had contact with a higher level carer who could also provide pain relief and intra venous hydration.
When she arrived, I apologised for bringing her out on Christmas Day.
She brushed off my apology saying, “Every day is wildlife day”.
Living in a rural area, at some stage in our life we are all likely to come across injured wildlife.
It is often a dilemma to know what to do, so I would like to offer the following suggestions:
1. Please don’t just leave it there to suffer, die slowly or be hit by another car. If it is has already died, removing it from the road will at least mean carrion birds will not also end up victims. If you can, place the wildlife in a covering ( I keep a blanket in the car for this purpose) and take it to the nearest vet. Most vets treat wildlife free of charge. It is a wonderful service that they offer, however a donation of any size to help with costs is always appreciated.
2. If the vet surgery is closed, put the creature in a cool, quiet, enclosed place and contact Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 who will give you the contact details of the nearest registered wildlife carer. It is useful to have details of carers in your area for any future incidents. Your vet might also be able to provide these.
3. If you are unable or not comfortable in handling the creature, all it takes is a phone call from the side of the road to Wildlife Victoria. They will ask your location and contact the nearest available carer to come and collect the creature and also give you immediate advice on what to do. If you are on the Hume Freeway, there are signs at frequent intervals advising you on how to get help. It is useful to keep these contact details in your glovebox.
In our community, we have many wonderful, dedicated and skilled wildlife carers who dedicate their lives to this cause. However, as one said to me, “We need people like you to get us to the wildlife so that we can help them.” This is something we all can do.
Bronwyn Starkey, Euroa