Letter: WIRES volunteers doing all they can

In response to Katherine Williams’ letter regarding wildlife injured on our roads.

WIRES Mid South Coast Branch would like to agree that it is now too frequent an event to see not only kangaroos and wallabies hit on our roads and left to die in a slow agonizing way, but also wombats, birds, echidnas, as well as many reptiles. It is indeed the responsibility of those who hit an animal to ensure that if the animal is dead the road is safe for other users or, if the animal is alive, that it receives assistance.

This may mean humane euthanasia or it may mean you have to take the initiative, wrap it up in your jumper and call a wildlife care group or the local vet for advice if no wildlife group exists in the area.

The NSW Wildlife Information, Rescue, and Education Services (WIRES) is a voluntary group. Our members fund the cost of rescuing, caring and releases animals themselves. There is no government assistance. We are not paid. 

We are grateful for the assistance received from the public donations, equipment and often assistance at rescues. However most of our members have at some time been verbally abused about “doing our job” - this is not a job. The same person who will have to get up at midnight to euthanize a kangaroo hit on the road may well have to get up for work at 6am.

As an organisation we ask a lot of our members but occasionally there will be a glitch and no-one will be available. We are desperate for more members to handle the workload of injured, orphaned or displaced wildlife but, especially, we need members who can handle situations such as Katherine recounted.

Katherine states that when she rang WIRES she was transferred a number of times. Our local number 0427 020 327 is a 24-hour service that does not have the capability to transfer calls. We take details of the caller and the situation, then phone the closest or appropriate member to deal with that call. We try to respond as quickly as possible, and keep the caller in the loop but sometimes it takes a while to find a member to assist. Sometimes there is no one. At the moment we have about 20 active members to cover an area from Ulladulla to Bermagui. Many of those people are not available 24 hours a day.

WIRES logs all calls that come in, so if Katherine would like to pass the details of the night she phoned to our mailing address (c/o Post Office Bodalla 2545), we will follow up the call to find out what went wrong and rectify it, if it was our service she called.

WIRES is not the only wildlife rescue group operating in the Eurobodalla. Wildlife rescue (formerly Native Animal Network Association) also operates a mobile service through this region. People may also be given details of wildlife groups outside the Eurobodalla by directory assistance. Our branch has handled calls from Sydney, Broken Hill and someone in Western Australia recently!

Katherine also complains of the length of time in response. The closest member WIRES may have to a situation such as hers may be 10 minutes away or they could live an hour away. Again we try to assist as quickly as possible. 

The situation is similar for the police who have been very helpful to WIRES over the years attending to animals hit on roads. The police may be at the other end of their patrol area when a call such as Katherine’s comes in. The police do take the issue of wildlife hit on the roads very seriously as it is an issue of road safety as Katherine pointed out however they have to prioritize incidents and a kangaroo will come second to a car accident or a domestic violence issue every time.

It is a pity that the incident Katherine came across with the injured kangaroo is becoming all too common. WIRES urges anyone who hits an animal to do the right thing and stop. 

Margaret Smith, Chairperson, WIRES Mid South Coast

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