WIRES Wildlife Agenda

Page 1



WILDLIFE AGENDA An update for WIRES supporters Winter 2017

YOUR CARING MEANS MORE THAN YOU’LL EVER KNOW To those of you who have turned your compassion into action, we say THANK YOU!



The ripple effect of what you have done touches on the lives of many in need. Whether you’re a WIRES carer, rescuer, donor, benefactor or just someone who has called WIRES to help an animal - we want to let you know that everything you do matters. And it doesn’t just matter to the people who work for WIRES, it matters to the animals who meet with disaster, accident and crisis throughout the nation every day. Australia is a big place. Many of us carry memories of the devastating impact our roads have on animals, whether you have collided with a kangaroo or wallaby, or perhaps checked the pouch of a dead possum only to find a live joey inside. Maybe you’ve found an orphaned animal in danger and rather than walk away you have stopped and called for help.

These events don’t have to be the end of the story for many animals. Thanks to your support, in most parts of the state there is a WIRES team nearby that can help – only a phone call or message away. We all feel drawn to help animals, especially our precious native creatures, when through no fault of their own they meet with suffering. When you believe in our work and support the mission of WIRES, you are helping to ease and eliminate their suffering.

We can’t thank you enough.

The level of our success is limited only by our imagination and no act of kindness, however small, is ever wasted - Aesop

Image: Joy Bourke

Cover image of Eastern grey kangaroos: “The photo was taken in January this year, on Gillards Beach, Mimosa Rocks National Park (between Bermagui and Tathra, NSW). It was my last day of camping and I was simply hoping to get a sunrise shot from a rocky outcrop. On the way there I came across a sweet little kangaroo family grazing on the dune above the high tide line.” – photographer, Steve Chivers.


WILDLIFE AGENDA Eastern grey kangaroo joeys in care with WIRES. Image: Angela Stanton




For many people, their first encounter with WIRES happens due to an emergency. Maybe a snake has taken up residence in their home or they have come across an injured or orphaned animal near a busy road. When they call the WIRES Rescue Office (WRO) or report a rescue via the WIRES website or app, the information they provide to our trained coordinators can make the difference between life and death for the animal(s) involved. ”The WIRES Rescue Office is essentially the communications hub of WIRES. We connect members of the public with our rescuers and carers… and we are engaged in that rescue through the whole process. This is essentially the heart of WIRES and a service that no other organisation provides,” says WRO manager Kristie Harris. When people report a rescue to WIRES, the information they provide is entered into a state-ofthe-art digital communication system which quickly alerts the maximum number of skilled rescuers and carers as close to the site as possible. The WRO is the communication point for 23 of the 27 WIRES branches.

In 2016, the WRO took 134,540 calls – a number which increases each year. In the Summer peak period, the office can take more than 600 calls per day.

Lucy Clark next to the WIRES rescue van

To give you some idea of the volume of data, in FY16 the WRO system sent more than 230,000 alert messages to around 1,400 WIRES rescuers. The investment WIRES has made in this communications platform has transformed the way we respond to rescue calls. This has been vital in fulfilling our mission to actively rehabilitate Australian wildlife by improving response times and alleviating unnecessary suffering. In the first year that WIRES offered reporting online, more than 4,500 people used the service and to date there have been more than 13,000 downloads of the report-a-rescue app. The WRO also manages the WIRES van, a dedicated vehicle that responds to wildlife emergencies and provides transport to animals in the Sydney metropolitan area. “If we could have WIRES vans everywhere throughout the state, that would be amazing,” says Kristie. “It’s so crucial to have that van on the road as much as we possibly can.”


THE POWER OF SPEAKING WITH ONE VOICE Leanne Taylor, WIRES CEO In the past year I’ve seen why it is more important than ever that we all rally behind the WIRES mission: to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same.

Currently, WIRES has more than 53,600 Facebook followers; 5,400 people receiving our monthly e-news; and almost 10,000 people registered to receive regular email updates on wildlife training.

WIRES also started, this year, its Digital Wildlife Ambassadors program. When we put out the call for people who have content creating skills or who are active online, we were overwhelmed with responses from those who want to contribute and share information about the work of WIRES.


Our communities online continue to grow, with our frequent social media posts now reaching tens of thousands on average and visitors to our website exceeding 600,000 in the past year.

We can all do something to help an animal in need or to educate ourselves and others about how we can sustain our unique flora and fauna for generations to come. It can be as simple as slowing down on our roads, or signing a petition to protect our threatened species from loss of their habitat.


When we all stand up for our wildlife, our voice is heard far and wide. WIRES has stepped up its efforts to engage with as many people as possible through digital and media outlets in the past year.

We have also joined a coalition of other concerned organisations to present an alternative to NSW government legislation that will likely lead to large-scale land clearing.

This is all great news for wildlife. In 2016, WIRES reached an important milestone: 30 years of continuous operation. This incredible achievement was celebrated throughout the organisation in tribute to more than 15,000 volunteers who have been responsible for rescuing and caring for around one million animals. The success of WIRES continues to prove that when we all work together, we can create something amazing. Please keep up the good work! Image: Cara Pring




There is a Sulphur-crested cockatoo back in the wilds of the Blue Mountains who has an amazing story to tell thanks to quick action by WIRES volunteers. He wasn’t named by his WIRES carer, Rebecca, but we’re just going to call this larrikin of a bird Lucky. After all, he is the lone survivor of a mass poisoning earlier this year. Rebecca was not the only local who was distressed to get a call about cockies that were dropping from trees and dying. The video she took of some of the birds in their final moments, wandering around on the ground disoriented and in pain before collapsing, is harrowing. While it’s unknown who is responsible for the deaths of the birds, it’s likely that someone distributed seed which had been laced with a strong poison. WIRES carer Rebecca

When Rebecca arrived at the scene, there was little she could do but to collect the corpses of the dead and rescue

those birds that were grounded but still alive and rush them to the veterinarian. “They had diarrhoea, they had mucus coming out of their noses and they seemed to be having fits… so it appeared they were having a very serious reaction to something,” she said. Of the group of four that were rescued, only one survived. Rebecca took him in and kept a close eye on him over the ensuing weeks. She was hoping and waiting for Lucky to show the exuberance and cheekiness that is typical of his species. But for a long time he remained quiet. “He didn’t speak for ten days and I have lots of cockatoos in my backyard… they were very curious and they were trying to talk to him but he didn’t talk,” said Rebecca. And then finally, one day Lucky let out a ‘squawk’! “I was worried that he might have neurological issues, so it was very concerning when he wasn’t talking. But when I heard that, I knew he was probably going to be OK.

“He started doing normal cockatoo things like trying to pull the cage apart, which is a good sign with cockatoos,” said Rebecca. After several weeks, Rebecca felt that Lucky was ready to go back to the flock. “He was fretting,” she said. “He might have had a partner that died or he might have had a partner that was still out there waiting. “Also, when you get an adult cockatoo that dies, it might not just be the adult that dies. Usually they have two young that might be left without someone to care for them,” said Rebecca. Once she was able to track down the flock, Rebecca was able to release Lucky, who leapt straight from the cage and up into the nearest tree without a moment’s hesitation.



Love them but don’t feed them (please) Given the kinds of reports we receive at WIRES we know that feeding native birds in the wild is not a good idea. If you think we’re being overly protective then think again: a beautiful black swan known to frequent The Cascades at Mt Annan, tragically died earlier this year after eating bread that had probably become contaminated. WIRES does not recommend that you feed any native birds in the wild because: • It changes the balance of their diet and can negatively impact their health • It can increase aggression and stress • It can increase the quantity of non-native birds, non-native rats and cockroaches • It can change the balance of species in the wild • It can encourage birds to become dependent on humans for their survival • Last but not least, artificial feeding is not necessary: native birds do not need extra food as they are well adapted to their environment and will be much healthier and happier overall if left to eat only their normal diet.

Image: Joy Bourke




A young Eastern grey kangaroo stands in the foreground and WIRES carer Christie bottle feeds another in the background

Just outside Bathurst, there is a special place for kangaroos and wallaroos, created by dedicated WIRES volunteers Matt and Christie and their young daughter.

“We don’t shuffle them from one carer to another… they can go downhill very quickly because they can suffer from stress myopathy,” he says.

Their lives are dictated by the routine of feeding and tending to scores of young macropods, which often involves feeding throughout the night along with lots of early mornings and late nights.

When WIRES head office staff visited the property in Autumn, Matt and Christie had around 15 macropods in care, including several in their first few years of life that had been raised from pinkie stage and were still being bottle fed. Pinkie is a term used to describe a young animal that would still be in the mother’s pouch and does not yet have a covering of fur.

The enclosure built by Matt on the couple’s property is state of the art. It is a 50mx50m fenced run which has plenty of space for the kangaroos and wallaroos to exercise and socialise, but offers protection from the elements and from predators. It helped having experience in raising macropods before they built the run as it allowed them to ensure the design was fit for purpose. The grassy enclosure features several structures to house feed and equipment, and for the young joeys to retire during the day in makeshift pouches hung from the walls. Matt says, “We haven’t been on holidays since I finished building the run back in 2013. Because we do take it seriously and… one of us is always caring for them at any given time.

Inside the house, Christie was caring for a pinkie Eastern grey kangaroo and a young Wallaroo who was nearly ready to move into the outside enclosure. The pinkie was living in a temperature-controlled knapsack with several fabric liners designed to create an environment that simulates a kangaroo pouch. Matt says, while not always 100% accurate, the family can generally recognise all the individuals in their care. “A lot of people look at a mob of kangaroos and they won’t be able to tell the difference between them. Because we’re with them pretty much 24/7 you do get to actually know them… you get to know their faces, their different personalities,” he said. After as much as 18 months in care with Matt and Christie, the kangaroos and wallaroos are usually released on their property which is next to vast areas of bush and scrub, the ideal environment for them to continue their lives in the wild. WIRES carer Matt, with Mini in his purpose-built macropod enclosure

“I get a lot out of it emotionally looking after the animals, seeing something actually grow. When they get sick that takes a toll on us too…they are like having your own babies again,” says Matt.




Kookaburras. Image: Leonie Griffin

Beautiful firetail. Image: Steeve Voccia

Yellow-tailed black cockatoo. Image: Corinne Le Gall

Tawny frogmouth Image: Donna Racheal


Rainbow lorikeet. Image: Bernadene Sward


Emus in north west NSW. Image: Stirling West

Bush stone curlew with chicks. Image: Teresa Kieseker Habban


Every year, WIRES volunteers in the Coffs Harbour region gear up for one of the most spectacular and rewarding events of the year: the annual migration of the Wedge-tailed Shearwater. It was a busy season this year for WIRES rescuer Jenny, but one that forged new connections with the community in helping to save more than 250 of these robust birds which nest on Muttonbird Island off the Coffs Harbour coast from November to April each year. “We basically coordinate signage, informing members of the public about how to rescue a bird and where to drop them off and also invite them to take the birds up to the top of the island,” said Jenny.


Shearwaters are migratory birds that travel up to 32,000 kilometres every year and have been known to fly this remarkable distance in six weeks. Their migration north to the Philippines, from Australia, begins in April each year. The adults are the first to depart the rookery with the juveniles following some weeks later.


The birds take off at night and navigate in part by light on the horizon. They can become disorientated by the light source inland at Coffs Harbour, which is why so many are found in the town centre. The vast majority of the birds that come into contact with WIRES have experienced disorientation and are in good health. Shearwaters are unable to take to the air from a flat surface, needing the airlift provided by a cliff or wave top to become airborne. So during the migration season, volunteers from WIRES and the community take a nightly trek to the top of the hill on Muttonbird Island where the birds can again attempt their migration. “Each afternoon between four and five, we go to drop off points and take the birds around and weigh them and assess whether they can be released back on the island,” said Jenny. WIRES volunteer Jenny heading up the hill on Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve with a team of community volunteers

Jenny said the migration season started earlier this year, because of the effects of Cyclone Debbie.

“When we had all that horrible weather there was a report of hundreds of Shearwaters being found up north… the males go further afield to find food for the chicks and they got caught in the Cyclone,” she said, adding that because the chicks were not being fed as often they started out on their migration earlier. Jenny was pleased to see that more than 80% of the rescued birds were picked up by members of the public, and the remainder were from teams of WIRES volunteers who go out each night looking for stricken birds. “The jetty have cooperated brilliantly and have changed their lights from white to amber,” said Jenny, “so the light isn’t as strong” and less likely to put the birds off their course. She said that while the migration season is an intense three weeks, it’s well worth the effort to “see them fly off”. And at the very least, if you’re climbing Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve every night you’re likely to get very fit! 13


THE SHEARWATER’S ROUTE Shearwaters travel far and wide to places such as Antarctica, Siberia, Japan, South America and New Zealand. This often puts their lives in danger. After gales or during food shortages, dead birds are often found along the coast. In some years, enormous numbers of shorttailed shearwaters can be found dying or dead on the beaches along the coast of NSW. The reasons for these deaths are not entirely clear, but scientists think that starvation and exhaustion on the birds’ southerly migrations are the main causes. Adults migrate south to their breeding islands during October, and although they stock up on their food supply in the northern hemisphere, they do not find a lot to eat on their way south. Forced to fly into strong winds, the weaker birds are unable to reach their breeding grounds in Australia. Source: NSW Office of Environment & Heritage

Muttonbird Island Nature Reserve



Koalas are currently listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the NSW Government which means they are at high risk of extinction in the medium term. In addition, there are ‘Endangered’ populations in Pittwater; Hawks Nest and Tea Gardens; and in the Northern Rivers region.

We can all work together to improve outcomes for koalas and to make sure they are preserved for generations to come. With the help of our supporters and donors, WIRES can continue its life-saving work in caring for all Australia’s native animals. WIRES research shows that we need to invest in the following areas in order to better assist koalas:


There are a number of pressures on koala populations in NSW with one of the biggest being loss of habitat. Information from WIRES over the last ten years shows the top three reasons for calls about koalas are due to them being found in places they shouldn’t be; collisions with cars; and disease.


WIRES work extends beyond the care of individual koalas; we work with the University of Sydney’s Koala Health Hub, veterinarians, koala hospitals and sanctuaries to provide information about koala health and care. WIRES also assists the Australian Museum Research Institute in collecting DNA from koalas to support conservation efforts.

Habitat restoration and conservation of remaining koala environments

Slow down when driving in areas inhabited by koalas and keep domestic pets contained

Chlamydia treatment like that offered by the University of Sydney’s Koala Health Hub

Further research into effective drug treatments for Chlamydia

Ongoing research and radio tracking of animals, both wild and animals who have been in care

Community education about the threat to koalas

For more information visit: http://www.wires.org.au/wildlife-info Image: Mark le Pla


Throughout the past year, WIRES has joined with a coalition of concerned groups to present an alternative to the NSW Government’s legislation that will likely lead to large-scale land clearing. Our fear is that we will see the kind of images that emerged from a logged forest in Victoria in late June. They depicted the body of a crushed koala amongst the debris.

To think that one of our national treasures, the koala, can be treated with such apparent callousness, has gotten many people upset in NSW. The Stand up for Nature campaign was formed by groups, including WIRES, WWF, Nature Conservation Council, the National Trust and others. It is campaigning to protect our special animals and wild places for future generations and conserve vital habitat for our most vulnerable species. You can lend your support by signing the Stand up for Nature petition, before the new laws are finalised in NSW:


While some koalas that come into contact with WIRES don’t make it due to their injuries or illness, there are many that are able to receive the best in specialist care from experts and other organisations. WIRES carers are trained to work with native species including adult koalas and joeys.


WIRES members do significant work in tracking and monitoring the health of koala populations throughout the state and work with other organisations to understand more about the vulnerabilities of specific groups. WIRES also microchips and ear tags some koalas that have been in care in order to track their progress in the future.

http://www.standupfornature.org.au/petition Image: Louise O’Brien


“Logging in the Acheron Valley was permitted despite advice from the government’s own scientific committee last November recommending greater protection of the area’s Greater Gliders, which in May were listed as a threatened species on the path to extinction,” said the newspaper report.

In the last year alone, WIRES responded to more than 480 calls from around Australia to help koalas, with some needing action and follow up. From May 2016 to May 2017, WIRES took into care around 40 koalas.


The Sunday Age published pictures of the lifeless animal, taken in the logged Acheron Valley, near Warburton, northeast of Melbourne.


In February, WIRES members in various parts of the state mobilised to help thousands of Grey-headed flying foxes affected by heatwave conditions.



It’s regrettably an occurrence that bat rescuers and carers gear up for every summer: the influx of adult and orphaned young flying foxes that succumb to extreme weather and lack of food. The Grey-headed flying fox is the largest Australian bat. It has dark grey fur on the body, lighter grey fur on the head and a russet collar encircling the neck. They are generally found within 200 km of the eastern coast of Australia, from Rockhampton in Queensland to Adelaide in South Australia. This year, WIRES received reports of thousands of dead bats dropping from trees after temperatures topped 45 degrees in parts of New South Wales. The area worst affected was Casino in the Richmond Valley region of northern New South Wales, where more than 2,000 dead flying foxes were found. WIRES Northern Rivers bat coordinator Lib said despite the high losses, volunteer wildlife carers had managed to save a few hundred bats in the Casino and Kyogle areas. “We were using mist-spraying to hydrate the trees where the bats were roosting [in Casino] and the ones that came down low, we took them into care and hydrated them,” she said. She warned the media and members of the public that in the ensuing days they would likely start to see dying bats coming into backyards and other parts of town. More than 700 flying foxes also died in the Upper Hunter town of Singleton due to the extreme heat. The majority of the dead bats were found in Burdekin Park, which has been home to a large flying fox population.

Flying foxes are particularly susceptible to stretches of several days with low humidity and very high temperatures. Their internal temperature rises, leading to dehydration, organ failure and death. In Queensland in 2014, an estimated 45,500 flying foxes were affected at more than 52 camps during one heat stress event. There are many variable factors with heat stress but broadly speaking, camps are at risk when temperatures go over 40-41 degrees Celsius. This year, with severe food shortages already a reality, many populations up and down the coast were experiencing fatalities early in the year. The other major danger to flying foxes is that of netting placed over trees on people’s properties and in suburban backyards. Every year WIRES receives hundreds of calls to assist bats caught in netting which often results in their death. To help keep our flying foxes and other wildlife safe, WIRES recommends the use of densely woven net that will not trap animals and doesn’t need a frame – you can find more information at: Image: AJ Caruana


Image: Caroline Greco

Flying fox being rehydrated. Image: AJ Caruana

This year’s heatwaves had a devastating effect on flying fox colonies. Image: AJ Caruana


1 2 3 4 5



Whether it’s an injured or orphaned animal that you have rescued or animals living in the wild, it is strongly recommended that you do not feed them. Our native animals have adapted well to their environments, even those living in our cities. Feeding them can disrupt not only their diet but their behaviour and the balance of populations, including the overpopulation of non-native species such as rats. If you have rescued an animal, it’s advisable to call WIRES for advice or take them to the nearest vet, but do not attempt to provide them with food or water as it may worsen their condition.

Many people find animals in need and with the best of intentions want to care for them and assist in their rehabilitation back to the wild. The reality is that our native animals require specialist care and facilities if they are to thrive. Rather than keep rescued animals as pets, WIRES recommends that you call a wildlife rescue service as soon as possible. There are some species you should never handle including snakes, monitor lizards (goannas), bats (flyingfoxes or microbats), large macropods (kangaroos or wallabies) or raptors (eagles, falcons or hawks).


As natural habitat for our native wildlife decreases, more and more of our native birds, mammals, reptiles and frogs are moving into urban areas. So it’s a good idea to turn our front and back yards into wildlife-friendly environments. You can do this by introducing native plants and trees, and including a water source in your design like a pond or bird bath. Timber and recycled materials make good hideaways for different creatures.

Image: Jenny Cooper



We receive a large number of calls at WIRES due to attacks by domestic dogs and cats on wildlife. It’s important to manage our beloved pets to minimise the damage that can be done to other, more vulnerable species. We recommend that you keep your pets safely contained at night, ensure your pets are desexed to avoid unnecessary breeding; make sure they are wearing a collar (bell or scrunchie for cats) and a tag with contact information.

You can start to advocate for our native wildlife especially the animals that may live in your local area. It’s easy to read up about wildlife and start to get out into nature and really appreciate firsthand how amazing our wild places are. You might like to consider joining WIRES or another group that looks after wildlife or is involved in bush regeneration or conservation. You can also apply to join our Digital Wildlife Ambassadors program at: www.wildlifeambassadors.org.au

You can find out more about supporting out wildlife at: WIRES.org.au




The truth is: the natural world is changing. And we are totally dependent on that world. It provides our food, water and air. It is the most precious thing we have and we need to defend it.- Sir David Attenborough


Image: Ann Killeen


Please help us to rescue more animals in need www.WIRES.org.au/ donate/ways-to-help


Pass on this book to spread the word that wildlife matters

NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue & Education Service Inc. PO Box 7276 Warringah Mall NSW 2100 (CM 17100180) www.wires.org.au This publication is printed on sustainably sourced paper and uses vegetable based inks


If you find an animal in need CALL: 1300 094 737 or ONLINE: www.WIRES.org.au


Join our Eternally Native club www.WIRES.org.au/ donate/Leave-a-gift -in-your-will Image: Darin Fitzgerald

Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.