WIRES asks holiday motorists to watch out for bushfire affected animals

Friday, January 3, 2020

WIRES is asking motorists to please take extra care on the roads during the school holiday period as bushfire affected animals seek water, food and shelter.

Early mornings and evenings are when many species including koalas, wombats, possums, wallabies and sugar gliders are on the move, but if they are disoriented by the fires they could attempt to cross roadways at any time of day or night.

WIRES CEO Leanne Taylor said many animals were already struggling with a lack of water and food due to the ongoing drought. Now, with bushfires destroying over 3.4 million hectares of habitat in NSW, our wildlife is facing significant long-term challenges.   

WIRES has received over 20,000 calls from the public in December, an increase of 2500 calls on the previous December and fire affected rescues continue to rise as volunteers are given permission to access the fire zones.

“Summer is always a frantically busy time for our volunteers but with the fires on the back of the worst drought in decades we are receiving an overwhelming number of rescue calls every day,” said Taylor. “We are urging drivers to please take care when driving especially in bushland and rural areas so our volunteers can concentrate on rescuing wildlife affected by the bushfires.”

Taylor added that the organisation is taking many calls from the public wanting to help and the most direct way to assist is to donate to the WIRES Emergency Fund at wires.org.au. Monies raised are being used to fund everything from food and medication to rescue equipment and replacement of rehabilitation enclosures destroyed in the fires.

WIRES also has the following advice for residents and motorists should they come across an orphaned, distressed or injured animal.

• Leave out shallow bowls of water for fire and drought affected animals and birds - place a few sticks or stones on one side to allow smaller animals to escape should they fall in.

• Please keep cats indoors and dogs under control so wildlife can pass safely through backyards and properties

• Keep a large cardboard box and towel in the boot of your car so you can safely contain an injured animal without putting yourself in any danger. 

• If the animal has been burnt, do not attempt to feed it, gently wrap it loosely, ideally with a towel or cotton fabric, place it in a ventilated box with a lid and take it to the nearest vet for urgent assessment. If waiting for a rescuer keep it in a dark, quiet place.

• PLEASE NOTE - do not approach injured snakes, flying-foxes, large macropods (e.g.adult kangaroos), adult wombats, raptors (birds of prey) or monitors (goannas) as these species can lash out if in pain and should only be approached by trained specialists - call WIRES for rescue assistance on 1300 094 737.

• If you have a swimming pool in the bushfire area please drape something over the edge of the pool in case animals fall in such as fabric they can cling to, heavy duty rope or a piece of timber secured to something heavy outside the pool. Pool steps can also prove a hazard as can be too high for smaller animals to get out so placing a few bricks or large stones to the side of each step will allow them to get a foothold. If possible check your pool twice daily including the skimmer box

For more information or interview opportunities please contact WIRES Media Manager John Grant via [email protected].

About WIRES (NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service Inc.)

WIRES is Australia's largest wildlife rescue organisation and has been rescuing and caring for native animals since 1985. It officially launched as a not-for-profit organisation in March 1986 with its mission to actively rehabilitate and preserve Australian wildlife and inspire others to do the same. WIRES has 28 branches and over 2500 volunteers who are involved in the rescue and care of wildlife in NSW and they assist many thousands of sick, orphaned, injured and displaced animals every year. The WIRES Rescue Office operates 365 days a year so the community can report sightings of native animals in distress. 

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