Feeding distressed wildlife

Like much of Southern and Eastern Australia, the Southern Highlands saw two mega-fires ravage our communities and pristine bushland. Tragically, people lost their lives and their homes while our wildlife including koalas, kangaroos, wombats and wallabies either perished or saw their habitats completely destroyed by a succession of infernos.

Though the rains have finally arrived, it will be a long time before the ravaged bushlands will fully-regenerate. 

With many of the surviving wildlife left without food or water, the Southern Highlands community and beyond [including Germany] responded in many extraordinary ways.

Our volunteer website developer and journalist, Jennifer Campbell went into action by collecting fresh produce each night along with other essential field items. Working with the management from Woolworths and Harris Farm in Bowral, Jennifer and her friend, Olga Hromow, established food stations on numerous backroads and within Werai, where the fires burnt the land to a crisp. 

Every evening for a month, Jennifer sorted out the fruit and vegetables and placed them into containers before distributing the food. She also mentioned how many of the Woolworths’ staff were out there in full-force after work or on their days off, each making a vital contribution to the wildlife’s survival.

Woolworth’s store manager, Grant O’Brien went further by supplying Jennifer with feed containers, bottles of water and water bowls, pillow cases, gloves, blankets, a medical kit and a feather duster to use in the event of finding injured birds. Other generous community supporters sent us bat wraps, knitted pouches for joeys and a host of vital supplies and donations.

Everything was utilised with swiftness and precision. On one occasion, we took a large box of fruit supplied by Grant down to the Shoalhaven Bat Clinic in Bomaderry for the hundreds of bats that were in rehabilitation while actor, John Waters and Moss Vale storeowner, Suzie Anderson — to name a few, raised money for the RFS who also helped save many of our marsupials.

Thank you to everyone for your kindness and dedication; especially Grant, Michael and the girls. 

If you’re feeding wildlife, it’s very important to read up on what they can eat and how they need to be fed. While we normally don’t recommend this practice, the bushfire crisis has changed the rules of engagement. For this reason, we have outlined some tips along with a link that will provide you with other necessary information.

Please visit this link every few weeks for updates:

https://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/topics/animals-and-plants/native-animals/helping-wildlife-in-emergencies

Of the rules that never change include:

  • Always consult with a wildlife carer to know what is relevant to your area
  • All food stations should be monitored and potentially rotated
  • Do not place food near roads
  • Relevant food should be placed in specific locations depending on species [what to feed mobs of roos, wombats, wallabies, possums, etc]
  • Do not leave food out if there is existing vegetation growing in the area
  • Seeds should never be left on the ground
  • Always make sure that the water is fresh and water bowls are cleaned, and are positioned close to food drops
  • Never give water straight from a bottle, especially to koalas. Either place water into a cupped hand or a water bowl.
  • Food should not be left out to rot
  • Do not encourage the wildlife to feed at your home
  • Always ensure your own safety while the fires remain active; especially if some fires are still active in hollows and beneath the undergrowth. Remember that large trees are also at risk of falling [which is why you must consult with a carer or local ecologist first].

Again, always refer to the link.

Foods that are safe to share with wildlife include:

  • Apples
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Berries
  • Baby spinach rocket
  • Watermelon
  • Pears
  • Corn
  • Cos lettuce
  • Peas
  • Beans
  • Carrots
  • Pumpkin

The foods to avoid are any brassica vegetables including broccoli, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, cabbage, turnips, collars, kale and bok choy.

It’s vital that for all to spread the word on what we have provided to ensure that those who are volunteering  with the very best intentions are not doing more harm than good. Their longterm care is just as important.

Our sincere thanks to our amazing Southern Highlands’ community for your care and support.

Woody and Kerstin.

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  • Good morning!

    I am a local from Burrawang who currently lives in sydney and I was wanted to volunteer myself to help with and rescue efforts you May have planed for the animals effected in the Morton fires. I would love to help anyway that I can even if it is to carry equipment! My mother is a nurse and would also be keen to help on her days off!
    I also was wanting to know if you are after supplies? I’ve been working with a bunch of people around Australia and a few internationally on getting supplies to wildlife groups. People have been knitting bird nests, sewing pouches, mittens, and bat wraps and donating animal food and medical supplies. I can start to get some of these supplies sent to you if you let me know what you are in need of!

    Really looking forward to hearing from you!

    Kind regards!

    Jemma Burke

  • Would you like pouches for kangaroos and joeys/wombats and other wildlife. I am sewer and can make you some.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Michele O’Byrne

  • Hi, my name is Kylie, and I live in Pennsylvania USA, but I’m a Aussie. I lived in East Maitland and my parents lived in Ashtonfield prior to us moving here.

    My Mum and I have made a number joey/wallaby bags (day/night), joey etc pouches (approved by the Animals Rescue Crafters) .

    We were wondering would you like the pouches we have made, and are you accepting them at this time, in regards to the virus.

    I’m sure you continue to be busy with the animals (just because the fire’s have stopped, doesn’t mean the helping for the injured animals stops).

    We are happy to send the items direct to you – so I would need an address if you would still like these items.

    Thank you for all you have done so far, to help our animals – and will continue to do.

    Regards

    Kylie and Kay Rixon

    Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi

    • Hi Kylie, Thank you for your message. That is very kind of you. We were fortunate to have received many pouches in the wake of the mega-fires, however, Wildlife Rescue South Coast would welcome them and dispatch accordingly to rescuers in the field as well as carers in need. Their address https://www.wildlife-rescue.org.au/contact-us. We hope that you and your family remain safe and well in the US. Our warmest regards.

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