The region’s drought is evident on many local faces, but increasingly so on the faces of underweight abandoned Eastern Grey Kangaroo joeys being found across the Snowy Mountains, as the effects of these dry times deepen.
Malnourished, abandoned joeys are being handed into the Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue group (LAOKO) in growing numbers over the past few months.
Kelly McMahon, a wildlife carer and animal co-ordinator with the local wildlife rescue group says a lot of joeys are being reported and brought in to care that have been found on their own with no mother in sight.
“We are getting more and more abandoned joeys, found on their own, quite malnourished and underweight,” McMahon says.
“It is very sad. The mothers are starving and just cannot support the joeys nutritionally and leave them.”
McMahon says the kangaroo joeys should still be in their mother’s pouch until they weigh about seven kilograms.
Kylie Clifford, who owns and runs the busy Cooma Pet Shop, is also a LAOKO volunteer and provides her time, helped by staff member, Kelly McMahon to staff the LAOKO 24 hour emergency rescue phone during business hours.
Clifford and McMahon juggle the demands of the Pet Shop with calls for help from members of the public for wildlife rescues or euthanasia.
“About 70 native animals have been handed into the Pet Shop in the last four months,” Clifford says.
“It is not slowing down as we would have expected once the winter ski season is over and daylight saving begins.”
LAOKO president Brendan Diacono says the current drought conditions with little or no grass in the paddocks on the Monaro and Snowy Mountains and often no water in the dams, means more and more wildlife are grazing along the road side, with inevitable consequences.
Diacono says that more carers are desperately needed to cope with the demand to care for the orphaned joeys as a result of the drought and collisions with cars.
“LAOKO provides training and a regular support group meetings for carers at the Cooma Pet Shop about once a month,” Diacono says.
“Carers get advice and help from the two animal co-ordinators, Linda Milne and Kelly McMahon, and experienced wildlife carers like Kylie Clifford.”
LAOKO is particularly looking for landholders who are interested in helping wildlife and can release animals on their property once they are old enough.
“Eastern Grey Kangaroos, wallabies and wombats are always raised in pairs or small groups, so when it is time to leave their human carers, they have the company and support of other companions or ‘buddies’.
“It is quite rewarding to watch these animals go back to the bush where they belong. The time and effort required at this release stage is fairly minimal, with some supplementary food and water needed and a safe environment, away from roads, dogs and shooters.”
To report injured wildlife, call Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue (LAOKO) helpline: 64561313. To donate go to the LAOKO website.
For those who would like to get involved in caring for orphaned macropods, LAOKO is conducting a macropod course this Saturday (November 9) at Cooma North Public School library. For more information or to register go to the LAOKO Facebook page or email [email protected]
Words by Elena Guarracino