By Jo Wainer
SUE Moore, wildlife carer and shelter at Tarwin Lower, and Mick Moore, CFA captain, had a week off!
Ten days’ camping, with nothing to care for, no koalas or echidnas or wombats or birds to feed, just themselves, the first holiday from animal care and the CFA in a decade.
It is just as well Sue was refreshed because she returned to find eight koalas waiting for care. Mick had built a koala enclosure recently which is large enough for tree branches, quiet places, room to wander, and for koalas to exercise while recuperating from illness or injury before being released.
And it was full of koalas!
The damage to wildlife is primarily from cars, sometimes from dogs or cats, and a few causes cannot be identified. Some cannot be saved and are humanely dispatched. The ones which Sue cares for, heals and releases back into the wild, are the wins.
In recent weeks, a kangaroo was hit at Venus Bay, three koalas were hit by cars, a baby wombat’s mother was hit at Wonga, and another one at Mt Best. The babies are being cared for by Catherine in Meeniyan. There is this wonderful network of carers who work with Sue, unnoticed, uncelebrated, yet dedicated to care and release. I feel so lucky to be surrounded by these good people as I find the deaths and injuries to wildlife to be deeply distressing.
Two of Sue’s new charges are a baby koala and a baby echidna.
The baby echidna, called a puggle, was found by road workers near Leongatha. Mothers feed their babies weekly and Sue was worried for a while as this little one would not drink. Now it has and is safely nestled in a crate with Sue and Mick, growing stronger every day.
Sue is also caring for a new baby koala she has called Bright. Her mother was killed in Leongatha and Bright will be with Sue for up to eight months as she grows big enough to care for herself. Sue feeds it with a bottle.
In a recent rescue, property owners notice a koala in one of their trees. It had not moved, so they called Sue. So, there she is, on the ground with her koala catching kit (a pole with noose, bag, washing baskets), and up in the tree is the koala.
Sue had brought a ladder and the property owners held it while Sue climbed, carrying the pole and bag. Her assistant, Wendy, stood ready to claim the koala and put it in the washing basket.
Sue used the pole to encourage the koala to come down, and there she was, at the top of the ladder with a 12kg wild koala nearly on top of her. She managed to get the bag over its head and the koala let go and tumbled into the bag she was holding with one hand while hanging onto the ladder.
Then she made her way down carefully, one-handed. She took him to the vet, who found no broken bones – good – but he had two old sores on his leg and a puncture wound under his chin. The vet prescribed anti-inflammatories, and antibiotics which are given by injection under the skin. Sue sent him to another carer, Jenny.
Sue had a wonderful day on Wednesday, November 4, when she and Matt released three koalas she had been caring for.
The older one, Cooper, had an injured leg and was looked after by another carer while Sue and Mick were on holidays.
He is better now and back in the bush. The other two, Jack and Jamie, had been with Sue for eight months.
When she released them, they climbed the tree, stopped and looked back at her as if to say, ‘is this OK, mum?’ then each found themselves a fork in the branch to sit in.
They will use this tree as their home tree as they become used to being free, moving out to another tree then coming back home, and then eventually extending their range.
Watching a wild animal returned to the bush is what makes all the work worthwhile. We owe Sue and her colleagues a big thank you.
If you want to contribute to her work, please donate to Bass Coast and South Gippsland Wildlife Rescue and Shelter at Bendigo Bank BSB 633 000, account number 167210343.