Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness

by NSW Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service (WIRES)
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness
Aussie Wildlife Recovery & Emergency Preparedness

Dear Friend,  

Throughout late February and the month of March, many parts of the east coast of Australia were in the grips of catastrophic floods. These floods have been unprecedented in their scale, and the repercussions on communities, the environment and our wildlife have been devastating. These instances are what our Emergency Preparedness project is for, and why your support is so vital.

There have been many instances where wildlife has been rescued. Like this swamp wallaby pulled from water by a member of the public, Owen is now in care with another orphaned joey. With time he will hopefully be released back into his natural habitat. Others were sadly not so lucky.  

These kinds of catastrophic weather events are what we try our best to be prepared for, with these events only becoming more frequent in the coming years.  

WIRES Emergency Flood Response  

During the floods  

WIRES rapidly made contact with volunteers and rescue groups across the impacted areas to see how they were and find out what assistance may be needed for impacted wildlife.  

Our rescue teams conducted search and rescue operations across flood affected districts where water had receded, and areas were safe to access. Our Emergency Response Van was active in search and rescue activities, attending critical rescues, providing vital advice, and supporting our thousands of volunteers as they care for sick, injured, and displaced wildlife  

Exhausted seabirds, drenched possums, orphaned wallaby's and kangaroo joeys, were just a few rescued by our Emergency Response Van and volunteers. We ordered and coordinated the delivery of support food for wildlife that were isolated or surrounded by water.  

In some areas our very experienced volunteers assisted in vet clinics to triage native animals as vets were cut off from their clinics  

We worked with local emergency support partners to ensure that volunteers and impacted wildlife got access to essential provisions as quickly as possible.  

This is the work we do, day in, day out, for Australia's vulnerable wildlife.  

Post-Flood recovery  

As the floods recede and access becomes possible, our teams have continued to reach into flood affected areas to rescue native animals in desperate need.  

Vital supplies, including equipment, medical kits, foods and supplements are now hitting the ground, and our fully equipped emergency rescue vans are conducting search and rescue missions across flood impacted areas.  

WIRES Rescue Office continues to operate 24/7 and our dedicated staff are managing floods calls from the community, vets and volunteers. WIRES have received 4,932 calls to our Emergency Rescue line since 1st March. We believe this is only a fraction of the real impact on wildlife as mobile reception in flood areas is still limited.  

We have two full-time Emergency Responders attending urgent rescues, collecting fruit from the supermarket Woolworths for wildlife in need, and dropping off supplies to volunteers.  

In addition to our network of volunteer carers, WIRES has been distributing urgent items to external wildlife rescue organisations and groups, thanks to the Woolworths WIRES Food for Wildlife Program  

We’re also continuing to work with our partner Animal Rescue Cooperative (ARC), which mobilised quickly after floods hit. WIRES and ARC are providing wildlife food, cleaning products, rescue and care equipment, medical supplies and clean water to those in need.  

Research Grant  

On a brighter note, WIRES has announced it will fund a $1.5 million wildlife research grants program to be launched early 2022. This program will be run in-conjunction with the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales (RSZ NSW).  

The objective of the WIRES RSZ Wildlife Research Grants program is to address the significant knowledge gaps surrounding Australian native species including biology, ecology, and conservation. Recent major ecological tragedies including drought, fires, and floods as well as an ever-growing threatened species list have clearly highlighted the vulnerability of native animals and the need to find effective strategies to mitigate major threats.  

Focus of research will cover habitat and species recovery post emergencies, emergency risk reduction and preparedness, and species conservation.  

Looking Foward 

It's apparent that after the disastrous Black Summer fires, drought and now floods, Australian wildlife needs our help more than ever, and will continue doing so. 

We are sincerely grateful to the members of the public who've taken the time to call WIRES when they've encountered sick, injured and orphaned native animals - and for those who are helping in so many other ways.  

Everybody who has contributed to this project is playing an important role in the preservation and ongoing health and welfare of Australia’s very unique and special native animals. Thank you again for your support. 

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Orphaned Koala joey, rescued by WIRES October 2021
Orphaned Koala joey, rescued by WIRES October 2021

While we have spent a great deal of time in the last two years developing and delivering multiple wildlife recovery programs and working on emergency preparedness plans we also remain focused on the animals requiring rescue and care every day.

The young koala joey pictured above was a recent rescue in Queensland where one of our Emergency Response Vehicles and Emergency Response team member, Amy are based. The ERT van provides valuable rescue assistance in a region where urban development is fragmenting and destroying valuable habitat and having an enormous impact on the koala populations there.

If you would like to receive monthly rescue stories about our ongoing rescue work with wildlife you can register to receive our enews directly to your inbox. 

MAJOR GRANT PROGRAM FOR THE AUSTRALIAN WILDLIFE SECTOR

Since our last report we are excited to have launched a new $5million grants program to improve outcomes for Australia’s native wildlife. The grants will provide support for dedicated wildlife volunteers and organisations across Australia.

The National Grant Program will be run over five years and will support best practice wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, native species recovery projects and increase emergency preparedness.

We are really encouraging sector collaboration in this ground-breaking grant program,” said WIRES Projects and Grants Manager, Jennie Murray. “By supporting expertise and sharing knowledge between wildlife rehabilitators, researchers, conservation professionals and community groups we believe this will result in the best outcomes for native species.”

MORE SUPPORT FOR VITAL TURTLE CONSERVATION PROGRAMS

We have also committed to supporting more projects to address the vital conservation of endangered turtle species. 

A global assessment of turtle populations has identified that half of the 360 turtle and tortoise species worldwide face imminent extinction. In Australia a range of factors has seen a 91% decline of Australia’s most common turtle species over the last 40 years. Key factors include attacks from invasive predators, road mortality, habitat destruction, water quality degradation and extreme weather events such as drought and bushfires.

“The trajectory for turtle populations worldwide is nothing short of alarming,” said WIRES Chief Operating Officer, Kyla Shelley. “We are thrilled researchers, conservation groups, wildlife organisations, government agencies and the community are coming together to address this urgent issue.”

Our initiatives to support Australia's turtles include partnering with Western Sydney University on a new project to Future Proof Freshwater Turtle Populations.

A WIRES grant will help establish a breeding program for two endangered freshwater turtle species identified by the Australian Government Bushfire Recovery Panel as requiring urgent intervention. A breeding, release and research program is being set up for the Manning River and Bell’s River Turtles.

LOOKING FORWARD

Although it is two years since the catastrophic drought and bushfires decimated wildlife populations and habitat across much of eastern Australia, every day we are faced with situations that remind us there is still so much more to do. The need to provide support for threatened species, for building rescue and treatment capacity, supporting volunteers through training and better understanding of the most effective solutions through wildlife research.

Everyone who has contributed and continues to support this project is helping to improve the health and welfare of Australia’s very unique and special native animals. Thank you.

 Links:

Manning River helmeted turtle, image by Veda
Manning River helmeted turtle, image by Veda
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Rescued Kangaroo joey in care with WIRES
Rescued Kangaroo joey in care with WIRES

Thanks to you, we are continuing to provide support for Australian animals. As we move further into the recovery phase we are collaborating with a broad range of organisations to fund projects that address the impacts of the changed environmental landscape, support the recovery of wildlife habitat and the long-term preservation of native species.

During this stage a key element is building national capacity and enhancing emergency response to reduce the risk to wildlife when future emergencies strike. By forming strong alliances and providing funding for long-term programs we are rolling out numerous projects and programs across Australia.

Some of the key projects in this phase are outlined below:

Professional Veterinary Wildlife Training

Funding has been provided to Vets Beyond Borders to train 50-60 more vets and/or vet nurses to treat wildlife within the next 12 months. This will significantly improve capacity to treat more animals impacted by future emergency events and ongoing environmental changes.

Wildlife Training Grants

In the aftermath of the Summer of 2020 we developed a course to help existing wildlife rescue organisations to recruit and train more volunteers.

Our Training Grants allow members from eligible rescue organisations access to WIRES training for free, allowing them to recruit and train more volunteers in basic wildlife rescue. WIRES has already confirmed support for 525 volunteers across 11 organisations as part of this grant program.

In conjunction with other emergency preparedness plans it is key to increase ongoing rescue and care capacity, to be able to assist more sick, injured and orphaned wildlife on an ongoing basis, and in response to major emergencies.

NSW Rehabilitation Capacity Building

The state of NSW bore the brunt of the 2020 fires with more than 5.5 million hectares destroyed or impacted. Over the coming weeks we will be starting a major project to identify current rehabilitation gaps and identify key facilities and capacity requirements for specific species across the state.

This project will:

  • Map existing facilities to understand current capacity
  • Analyse rescue data to understand regional needs and trends
  • Analyse availability of trained volunteers by species in each region
  • Seek to understand gaps and requirements for optimal capacity and best practice care
  • Improve understanding of local needs, gaps and requirements for prioritising capacity needs 

Wildlife Research Grants Program

Our Wildlife Research Grants Program will be launching in early 2022 in conjunction with the Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales.

The objective of this program is to address the significant knowledge gaps surrounding Australian native species including biology, ecology, and conservation. Recent major ecological tragedies including drought, fires, and floods as well as an ever-growing threatened species list have clearly highlighted the vulnerability of native animals and the need to find effective strategies to mitigate major threats.

Research will focus on habitat and species recovery post emergencies, emergency risk reduction and preparedness, and species conservation.

Koala Health Hub update

The Koala Health Hub (KHH) at the University of Sydney was the recipient of a three-year grant from WIRES. The grant has sustained the KHH and allowed it to respond to a dramatic increase in need for koala care and management following long-term drought, loss of habitat and other significant impacts on their populations.

WIRES and KHH work together to deliver improved health outcomes for koalas and this funding has allowed KHH to implement new initiatives and projects.

One of the recent initiatives is the establishment of ‘’Koalavet’’ an online video forum for koala/wildlife vets across Australia where some of the key topics being covered are:

  • Criteria for triage
  • New approaches to the treatment of chlamydia disease
  • Approaches to the treatment of burns
  • Chlamydia testing and evaluation

Future Plans

The droughts, bushfires and floods of the last two years remind us that our wildlife continues to be significantly challenged by environmental changes and mass habitat reduction. There is still an enormous need for support for threatened species in particular and for building capacity, in volunteer numbers, training, wildlife treatment knowledge, wildlife research and identifying future rehabilitation facility requirements.

Everybody who has contributed to this project is playing an important role in the preservation and ongoing health and welfare of Australia’s very unique and special native animals. Thank you again for your support.

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Imogen-WIRES Emergency Relief Grant Recipient
Imogen-WIRES Emergency Relief Grant Recipient

Your support along with the global interest and compassion for Australian animals continues to provide opportunities to improve the outcomes for our native animals now and in the future.

With the long recovery phase for wildlife and their habitat continuing to evolve we have recently announced the allocation of  Stage 2 plans for the Emergency Fund to help Australian native wildlife after the devastating droughts and bushfires of 2019/2020.

Stage 2 funding is being distributed across the core areas of Rescue, Rehabilitation and Recovery:

  • Supporting the rescue and care of sick, injured, displaced and orphaned animals and increasing national rescue and care capacity

  • Funding projects that address the impacts of the changed environmental landscape and support the recovery of wildlife habitat and the long-term preservation of native species

  • Supporting a national framework to engage volunteers in best practice rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife affected by emergency events and reduce future risk to wildlife

A major aim of the Stage 2 plan is to build national capacity through collaboration and long-term programs;

  • A national grants program will be run over the next five years to support best practise rescue and rehabilitation of wildlife and native species recovery projects.

  • Developing a national network, enhancing state-based systems and improving the structures and support for wildlife rescue and care.

  • Funding for 23 national hubs of our partner Animal Rescue Cooperative (ARC) to fund critical supplies including food, medical needs and the distribution of craft items to support wildlife carers during emergency events

  • Research funding to identify knowledge gaps in habitat conservation and species recovery in the changed landscape, post Black Summer Bushfires

  • Additional projects, programs and partnerships directly supporting species and habitat recovery initiatives and conservation efforts. This will directly address the ongoing impacts of the 2019/2020 emergency events including drought and fire that devastated wildlife populations.

Additional details of specific programs will continue to be announced throughout 2021 and we will be sure to keep you updated through future project reports, without you none of this would be possible and we thank you.

If you would like to learn more about our everyday work rescuing and caring for wildlife and receive inspiring wildlife rescue stories each month, please register to receive our enews via the link below.

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Bandicoot joey in care with WIRES
Bandicoot joey in care with WIRES

When I reflect on the past twelve months it’s hard to believe what the world has endured - it has truly been a year like no other. Extreme weather events, bushfires and COVID-19 have provided the backdrop to major challenges for humanity and the environment across the globe. 

For Australia the devastating impact of ongoing drought and bushfires has left an indelible scar on our country and tragically our wildlife populations. 

However along with these challenges I have never witnessed such a groundswell of interest, care and support for our native animals. People just like you have united in the cause to halt the decline of threatened species, fight habitat destruction and value the role wildlife plays in our national identity. This unprecedented support clearly demonstrates people across Australia and around the world understand our native animals need saving – now. 

I hope this is just the beginning of a new chapter for Australia – one where our wildlife is valued by all levels of our community including those who are in the position of power.  

Thank you so much for being a part of this movement and standing up for Australian wildlife.

It’s unimaginable that an estimated three billion native animals have been killed or displaced by the Summer bushfires, and millions of hectares of land burnt. Unprecedented disasters of this scale require unprecedented collaboration to help wildlife recover which is why we have partnered with leading environmental groups, conservation organisations and universities, to implement programs designed to deliver the best long-term impact for wildlife. 

With the support of generous donors like you, together we have funded:  

  • 64 projects to support the national recovery of wildlife and wildlife habitat. 
  • the planting of over 92,000 plants for habitat revegetation 
  • installation of 1554 nest boxes 
  • long term species recovery and habitat programs, expanding threatened species care and breeding programs 
  • national veterinary vaccination grants to increase veterinary capacity to treat flying-foxes 
  • the building and distribution of $1 million worth of arboreal water stations for native wildlife 
  • the construction and expansion of wildlife hospital extensions and medical fit out costs 
  • bushfire recovery projects to protect over 17 threatened and endangered species including the endangered Northern Bettong and Kangaroo Island Dunnart from extinction 
  • a full-time emergency rescuer out of Currumbin Wildlife Hospital to support the local rehabilitation network, ensuring animals needing urgent rescue attention can be assisted faster 
  • free training for wildlife rescue groups across the country so that they can implement best practice response and care for wildlife 

And that’s just the start, a lot of recovery work is well underway, and though progress has been significantly impacted by COVID-19, we adapted quickly and continue to provide rescue support 24/7, 365 days a year. 

We are focused on increasing our capacity to rescue and care for more wildlife on an ongoing basis and improving emergency preparedness to better respond to major wildlife emergencies like the Black Summer Bushfires. Another priority focus is recovery, as without healthy, sustainable habitat and wild species populations, the animals we rescue and rehabilitate have nowhere safe to be released. Simply put, without the wild, there is no future for wildlife. 

The lead up to Christmas is always our busiest time of year for rescues, with carers looking after many sick, injured and often orphaned animals. With your ongoing support it is our privilege to keep working to ensure native animals can be returned to the wild now and in the future.  

We have done a lot this year and there is a lot more planned for 2021. Thank you for all that you have done to assist wildlife. We are deeply grateful for your support and wish you and your loved ones a safe and happy holiday season. 

Warm regards, 
Leanne Taylor 
WIRES CEO 

P.S. Without you, none of this is possible. If you are able to give a gift to support the ongoing rescue, rehabilitation and recovery of wildlife, please donate today. Our bushfire projects are just one part of our work, but we have many ongoing projects that need funding. In October alone we received over 21,000 calls for help. Thank you.

 

Thank you from the whole WIRES team
Thank you from the whole WIRES team
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Organization Information

NSW Wildlife Information Rescue & Education Service (WIRES)

Location: Brookvale, NSW - Australia
Website:
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Twitter: @WIRESWildlife
Project Leader:
Frances Parkinson
Warringah Mall, NSW Australia
$1,473,131 raised of $2,000,000 goal
 
1,501 donations
$526,869 to go
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