31 July 2023

A win for injured and sick wombats with LAOKO’s new team to the rescue

| Gail Eastaway
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man and woman with wombat

LAOKO wombat mange treatment program officer Monica Cowan (left) and wombat coordinator Rebecca Cowan. Photo: Lisa Petroff.

Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue group Looking After Our Kosciuszko Orphans (LAOKO) has a newly formed coordinator team that will bring a fresh approach to caring for adult wombats and joeys across the region.

Rebecca Cowan is the group’s wombat coordinator, overseeing all aspects of wombat rescue and care.

Monica Cowan will lead the wombat mange treatment program as LAOKO’s mange officer, coordinating all operations and mange treatment volunteers.

Rebecca and Monica joined LAOKO in 2017 and have since developed extensive skills and experience in wombat care.

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Rebecca has rescued, raised and released multiple wombat joeys and Monica has had many positive outcomes in the field with mange treatment, including working with landholders to treat unwell, mange-affected wombats.

“Our native wildlife is one of the reasons why people come to visit our region,” Rebecca said.

”Community engagement and awareness is vital for us to provide the best outcomes for any orphaned and injured wildlife in the Snowy Monaro.

”We encourage anyone who spots an unwell, injured or orphaned animal to call our emergency phone line so we can send a volunteer out to assess and provide appropriate care.

“Wombats are often the casualties of motor vehicle accidents [particularly in snow season] and if a female is hit, she may have a joey in the pouch that needs to be rescued. We encourage everyone to stop, check and report if they have hit a wombat or see a newly hit wombat so we can make appropriate arrangements for its care.”

The Snowy Monaro is one of many Australian east coast regions impacted by sarcoptic mange. The invasive disease was introduced by foxes and dogs when colonial settlers arrived in Australia. Caused by the Sarcoptes scabiei mite, the mites are then transmitted by foxes and wild dogs, affecting not just wombats but livestock and domestic dogs.

Mange results in a slow, torturous death for any animal if left untreated.

Monica said: “Mange is treatable and we have had great success in rehabilitating wombats with the disease, but we need the public to assist us with reporting any sighting of an unwell wombat to our emergency phone line so we can help that animal. We welcome all landholders to work with us.

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“Unwell wombats can also seek shelter in and around manmade structures, making a home in a place that’s not convenient for landholders. Healthy wombats by nature do not do this and are rarely seen out in the daylight.

”We can assist with these cases and have a number of options to ensure a win-win outcome for both the wombat and the landholder.”

LAOKO’s 24/7 emergency phone number is (02) 6456 1313.

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