Protecting Highlands wildlife

PROTECTING WILDLIFE: The death of a displaced wombat has prompted a reminder from wildlife rescue organisations.  Photo: Sheila Whyte.
PROTECTING WILDLIFE: The death of a displaced wombat has prompted a reminder from wildlife rescue organisations. Photo: Sheila Whyte.

The Highlands is known for its expansive wildlife, but residents have questioned whether development is causing animals to be displaced. 

Land clearing has forced animals to find alternate habitats with their own either shrinking, changing or disappearing. 

Sheila Whyte and Hilda Wood, two Bowral residents, have noticed wildlife moving down Old South Road, Ascot Road and Bowral Street in recent times. 

“We are seeing wildlife walk down the main roads to try and burrow down near back fences,” Ms Whyte said. 

"These animals have most likely travelled from a disturbed environment, across fast-moving roads where roadkill happens.”

Ms Whyte sadly experienced this first hand last month. 

She encountered a wombat sleeping out in the open daylight on the cycle path behind Ascot Road, and said the animal was somewhat out of sorts. 

“It was walking up and down the path, pacing backwards and forwards in a disoriented and confused manner,” she said.

Concerned residents monitored the wombat over the next two days. 

“His burrowing at the fences indicated he was trying to establish a new home, without success,” Ms Whyte said. 

On the third day their concerns escalated and they contacted a wildlife rescue organisation to observe and possibly relocate the wombat. 

However the residents lost sight of the wombat and a few hours later it was found dead on the side of Old South Road. 

“It was obvious it had tried to retrace its journey back to its former habitat, only to be killed,” Ms Whyte said. 

The sad event prompted Ms Whyte and Ms Wood to remind residents of the wildlife rescue organisations available in the event an animal has been displaced or injured.

“[Wildlife Rescue South Coast or WIRES] cannot always ensure that a situation will end well or an injured animal will survive, but they can ensure that the public, with good intentions and empathy for the creature’s welfare, will receive support and encouragement to see the situation through and alleviate suffering.”

Wildlife Rescue South Coast macropod coordinator Kerstin Schweth said late autumn, winter and early spring brought an influx of injured wildlife. 

“It gets dark earlier and that’s when the animals are moving so we find that people commuting are hitting the animals,” she said. 

Ms Schweth reminded the community to contact WIRES or Wildlife Rescue South Coast as soon as they saw an injured or displaced animal. 

“If their habitat has been destroyed we can find replacement accommodation and if the animal is injured we can help with rehabilitation or, if we have to, put them out of their misery,” she said. 

Ms Schweth asked community members to stay with animal while waiting for assistance. 

“We get there as soon as possible but if the animal is injured please stay with it and check pouches for babies, that way we can save at least one of them,” she said. 

“If you can’t stay with the animal mark a tree or landmark near the animal because we can search up to 50 metres for the animal this way.”

Wildlife Rescue South Coast has called for volunteers to keep up with demand. 

“We need carers, people to answer phones, admin workers,” Ms Schweth said. 

“If you can help please get in contact and we can offer training and courses.” 

Wildlife Rescue South Coast has a 24/7 answering service on 0418 427 214 to assist with injured or displaced wildlife. WIRES Wingecarribee can be contacted at 4862 1788 or 1300 094 737.


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