It’s a long time overdue but we thought you would like to know how everybody’s been getting on at the shelter. Firstly we would like to send a huge thank you all for your very welcome support and supportive messages during the fires. Knowing that there were so many people out there thinking of the wildlife and supporting the work we do was overwhelming in the nicest way possible and very encouraging.
During the fires we took in kangaroos, wallabies, koalas, wombats, possums, 2 echidna, a Night Heron, a Brown Goshawk and a Swamp Harrier. Most of the animals had second and third degree burns to their hands and feet but the birds of prey were starving from loss of prey. Strangely enough the wombats had burns down their backs, which has puzzled us a bit but we suspect they are radiation burns from the extraordinary heat in the soils and tree roots burning underground. So initially we were mainly treating burns, which meant a lot of bandage changes and injections of antibiotics and pain relief. Many of our patients also needed rehydration and most were put on intravenous fluids. Any animal we suspected to have suffered smoke inhalation (which was most) we put in a tent with a vaporizer to keep up the humidity and open the airways.
The animals came to us from the Wildlife Victoria rescue crews who did a truly fantastic job, searching fire grounds for injured wildlife day after day for months on end. The rescue efforts continued on into July as so many wombats were suffering mange and emaciation, so most weekends we still had a wombat or two arrive at the shelter from the fire grounds. We had one as recently as two weeks ago. We had fires around Daylesford come very close to the shelter as well. Fortunately the wind conditions were in our favour and it was late summer so a bit of rain fell in the nick of time. The hardest thing for us was not having any volunteers able to get to the shelter because of roadblocks. The local community responded though and new faces just turned up on our doorstep to help. People came to take our growing pile of rubbish to the tip, drop of blankets and towels, transport injured animals from rescue grounds to the shelter or just to mop the floor or clean the dishes.
It’s been an exhausting start to the year and the number of animals coming into the shelter just doesn’t seem to diminish. The fires are over for now but the everyday trauma to wildlife goes on. We have nearly one hundred animals in care at the moment. Most are kangaroos that have been hit by cars or caught in fences, but now we have a reputation for treating adult and manged wombats, we find more are sent to the shelter
from other parts of the state and we are very busy trying to find more effective ways to treat them.
We have a fantastic crew of volunteers that come in most days and we can’t sing their praises enough.
Our local vet in Hepburn Springs, Emma Tomkin, has been a godsend and her veterinary support has been simply wonderful and very thorough. We feel we have been blessed for the people around the shelter, and us and for the help that has been given to keep up going and enabling us to keep helping the wildlife.
Recent donations have meant that we have been able to build more facilities to treat adult wombats. We have purchased a humidicrib for small intensive care patients and in preparation for the baby bird season in spring. Next fire season (be nice if there wasn’t one) it will be used for koalas with suspected smoke inhalation. We would like to build a unit that can take an adult wombat, as they are susceptible to ash inhalation. We have bought new heat pads and medical equipment and bandages. The vet, milk and feed bills have been enormous and we have been able to keep up with the demands only thanks to all of you. Wildlife Victoria has been very supportive with veterinary and lab costs and assisting with some more wombat facilities.
Exciting plans for the shelter are afoot and we are currently working towards building a trial wildlife hospital/ treatment centre here that will also be built as a fire bunker for all us animals. It’s a large project but looking probable as, with the assistance again of Wildlife Victoria, a grant has been secured to get the project going. Preparing the shelter to protect the animals during an extreme fire event is a current priority as
we are not far from the next fire season.
Other than yourselves and Wildlife Victoria, the only other external support for the shelter and fire affected wildlife came from the Department of Sustainability and Environment in the way of a $500 fire grant. Currently, the shelter costs about $2 000 a month to run, excluding new enclosures and infrastructure that seem to be a constantly growing requirement. We remain optimistic about the future of this shelter as we
strive to keep up with the ever-growing demand for our services.
Enough from us for now,
Gayle and Jon.
To make a donation please post to Hepburn Wildlife Shelter, P.O. Box 133 Daylesford, Vic 3460 or go
to our website at www.hepburnwildlifeshelter.com