Sup­port for wildlife

Yarrawonga Chronicle - - Front Page -

Man­ag­ing a life­sav­ing wildlife shel­ter can be very chal­leng­ing but for Loretta and Móee­sha Saun­ders, they aren’t com­plain­ing.

“I have been do­ing this for 15 years now, from when Mo was just two and it is the most re­ward­ing thing,” owner of Moah’s Ark Wildlife Shel­ter Loretta said.

“I was a po­lice of­fi­cer for 30 years be­fore that and worked closely with wildlife of­fi­cers and the RSPCA.

“Mum brought me up to be an­i­mal wel­fare ori­en­tated, so I sup­pose the pas­sion was there.”

All of the an­i­mals Moah’s Ark takes in are Aus­tralian na­tives but Loretta will as­sist any an­i­mal that’s in­jured, or­phaned or dis­placed.

“Birds of prey, chicks and kan­ga­roo joeys are what we re­ceive the most but we take in rep­tiles too,” Loretta said.

“Birds, baby pos­sums and glid­ers have been very pop­u­lar at the mo­ment.

“Nor­mally we get a bit of a re­prieve be­tween sea­sons, but we have been flat out for 12 months.

“Spring and sum­mer are usu­ally the busiest time but be­cause of the drought and the fact we didn’t re­ally have a win­ter it’s just been a con­tin­ual year for all an­i­mals.

“The end of last year we had over­breed­ing and some of the birds were still go­ing in sum­mer; it’s the cli­mate, ev­ery­thing’s just changed and there’s not enough food any­where.

“Just to find green grass I am trav­el­ling 30kms a day, just to feed the kan­ga­roos and the wat­tle for the pos­sums only lasted three days.”

Moah’s Ark was one of four shel­ter op­er­a­tors in the Moira Shire who were awarded fund­ing re­cently un­der the La­bor Gov­ern­ment’s Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tor Grants.

The gov­ern­ment is en­sur­ing in­jured wildlife in the Moira Shire get the help they need, with a new on­line help tool and al­most $170,000 in fund­ing for re­ha­bil­i­ta­tors.

Mem­ber for North­ern Vic­to­ria, Mark Gepp at the time an­nounced Moah’s Ark would re­ceive $2000.

“We ap­ply each year for a lit­tle grant and this year re­ceived $2000 from the Wildlife Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tor Grants,” Loretta said.

From that $2000, $1000 will be used to pur­chase con­sum­ables such as med­i­ca­tions and the sec­ond $1000 will go to­wards struc­tures in­clud­ing res­cue equip­ment.

“Just to get one kan­ga­roo joey through from when it is brought to us to when its re­leased costs $1500, for for­mula and colostrum,” Loretta said.

“This grant has been a real help to us. “Up­keep is a big thing, we need new fly wire for the birds, some fans to be able to cool the bird ‘en­clo­sure’ down and whirly birds to suck the hot air up be­cause it gets so hot in there dur­ing sum­mer – this is what the money goes to­wards.

“Even though we don’t get paid this is the best thing I have ever done.

“What we get back in re­ward is just not in com­par­i­son.

“It isn’t about us, it’s purely about these most pre­cious na­tive an­i­mals who prob­a­bly be­long here more than us hu­mans.

“In 30 years a lot of these will be ex­tinct so if we don’t start look­ing af­ter these vul­ner­a­ble species we will no longer have them.”

The motto at Moah’s Ark is to ‘res­cue, re­hab, re­lease’ and get­ting them back to mother na­ture.

“When peo­ple see a bird on the ground they think oh its in­jured and pick it up to bring to us, but a ma­jor­ity of the time mum is watch­ing from the tree, she will kick them out of the nest when they’re be­gin­ning to fledge so they can learn to eat,” Loretta said.

“If you keep things as nat­u­ral as you can and try to as­sim­i­late what it is like out there, then you have a much bet­ter chance of pulling that an­i­mal through.

“When we re­ceive an in­jured bird, we buy some­thing that is suit­able and is like a make shift nest, when they are ready to be re­leased we’ll keep them in that nest, put it up in the tree and mum will take it back.

“We al­ways re­lease as close as prac­ti­cal where it came from be­cause an­i­mals are ter­ri­to­rial and with birds es­pe­cially if you can get them back to mum within a six-week pe­riod she will take them back straight away.”

Loretta and her small team at Moah’s Ark don’t go out and seek do­na­tions, as Loretta said they are a team of vol­un­teers who made the de­ci­sion to take on this job.

All the do­na­tions they do re­ceive how­ever go to­wards feed­ing and med­i­cat­ing the an­i­mals.

“Peo­ple are gen­er­ous,” Loretta said.

“We don’t seek it but it’s won­der­ful that peo­ple have that com­pas­sion and un­der­stand what we are try­ing to do.

“We’ve started up an­other Face­book page for ed­u­ca­tion – teach­ing the pub­lic to recog­nise when a bird needs help be­cause a lot of the time chicks that get brought to us should have stayed with mum.

“We so ap­pre­ci­ate when the com­mu­nity is con­cerned for the wildlife but some­times they are ok and end up be­ing taken away from mum which can be more harm­ful.

“Our Face­book now has charts to show when an an­i­mal is in need of our help and when it is just learn­ing, and we have also started a news­let­ter on­line, on an­i­mal ed­u­ca­tion – keep­ing your­self safe and keep­ing the an­i­mal safe.”

For Loretta and Móee­sha not a day goes by where they are twid­dling their thumbs with Loretta not hav­ing a day off in two and a half years.

“We might call for a few more car­ers in the area soon be­cause of how busy we are,” Loretta said.

“We cur­rently have my­self and Mo work­ing here, and we also have three foster car­ers who take on our lit­tle ones af­ter their ini­tial care as I do all the im­me­di­ate work then pass on to a carer to get it back to health.

“I’m also go­ing to have a train­ing day soon be­cause I’m need­ing more res­cue trans­porters, I’m find­ing that it’s tak­ing so much of the day to do the res­cue then to get it home whilst also look­ing af­ter the an­i­mals that we al­ready have here.

“The train­ing will be on how to safely res­cue and col­lect an in­jured smaller an­i­mal but for the peo­ple to keep safe as well.”

Loretta said the job is con­stant and test­ing but there is no place her­self or Móee­sha would rather be.

“There is not a day where we don’t have an an­i­mal to res­cue,” Loretta said.

“It’s been a real strug­gle for the an­i­mals this year, a real strug­gle.

“There is never a dull day, never a dull mo­ment.

“But we love what we do and we love car­ing for these an­i­mals.”

If you find an an­i­mal that is in­jured or needs res­cu­ing es­pe­cially dur­ing the day, please con­tact Loretta ASAP on 0417 288 944.

Móee­sha Saun­ders of Moah’s Ark with some of the many Aus­tralian wildlife the shel­ter takes care of.

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