During the Black Summer bushfires, members of the Mid South Coast Branch of the WIRES Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation experienced the devastation first-hand.
Because of their dedication, compassion and teamwork, the WIRES branch of nearly 100 members was nominated by the parent WIRES organisation as 2020 NSW Volunteer Group of the Year. Members were delighted to learn they won the South Coast Regional Awards in July and now wait to hear if they win the NSW State Award on 3 December.
In 2019-2020, as the Black Summer bushfires tore through our national parks, WIRES members went into overdrive responding to calls from the public about injured and dying native animals across the South Coast region.
With roads cut at short notice, their own homes often in peril, and communication networks teetering, wildlife carers arrived at call-outs, and often had to make the difficult, but humane, decision to euthanise animals which had been badly burnt.
With animals in care, members often found themselves evacuating in their cars with joeys in pouches or possums in drays to take shelter when the fires were most dangerous. Some members not only lost their homes, but the rescue shelters they had built on their properties.
The NSW award committee noted in particular the dedication of this group which cares for sick and injured animals that are part of their local communities. The committee also paid tribute to the 24/7 response that was so important during the horrific bushfires.
More than 2750 rescues were made during the Black Summer bushfire period across NSW, in the most dire and desperate circumstances.