4 November 2019

Another face of the drought, native animals starving and abandoned

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A group of Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue (LAOKO) volunteers who care for orphaned wildlife in the Snowy Mountains meet regularly at the Cooma Pet Shop. Pictured; Gordon McCoullough, Jenny Williams, Dee Willoughby Cotton (front), Guy Palkamen and Cheryl Dickson, Jaime Clifford and Peter Breukel. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

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.

Experienced wildlife carers Kelly McMahon and Jenny Williams at one of the regular LAOKO carers meetings where advice and support is given to first-time and less experienced carers. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

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.

This frightened and undernourished Eastern Grey Kangaroo joey, weighing just one kilogram, was recently found alone in the bush after being abandoned by his mother. Lucky for this little one, a local wildlife volunteer happened to be in the area, heard its distress calls and was able rescue it from certain death. Photo: Kaitlyn O’Brien.

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.”

Experienced wildlife carer and animal co-ordinator for the Snowy Mountains Wildlife group (LAOKO), Linda Milne looks after many native animals on her property with her husband Mick near Berridale. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

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.

First-time wildlife carer Candice Anderson said caring for her Eastern Grey Kangaroo joeys has brought a lot of joy to her life. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

“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.”

Photo: Kaitlyn O’Brien

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

Experienced wildlife carer and Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue (LAOKO) volunteer, Jenny Williams has raised many wombats over the years on her property on the Myalla Road. She encourages people to give caring a go, saying it is very rewarding but also a lot of work. Photo: Elena Guarracino.

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As a Wildlife Carer, over the last 2 years the number of under weight Joey’s coming into care has increased. Their care needs differ from healthy normal weight Joey’s. Great to see that this aspect of drought is being reported.

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