Help­ing in­jured wildlife

Euroa Gazette - - LETTERS TO THE EDITOR -

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

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