Volunteer effort to save bushfire affected wildlife

Volunteers assembling feeding and water stations for bushfire-affected wildlife.

A band of passionate volunteers have been hard at work in the Snowy Valleys region placing food and water stations across Batlow, Tumbarumba, Yaven Creek, Ellerslie and Talbingo for fire-affected wildlife.

Volunteer Clarissa Hulks said the volunteer effort, which is coordinated through the Facebook group ‘Dunn’s Road Fire Wildlife Assistance Group’, began around January 10 when everyone was let back into town after being evacuated because of the fires.

“We are a group of people who were impacted by the fires, whether we are residents of the area, wildlife carers or just people who care, and we are trying to get out there and help as much as wildlife as we can,” she said.

There are about seven regular people volunteering their time to place food and water stations in various locations and monitor them on a regular basis. SONA (Save Our Native Animals), WIRES and Wildlife ARC (Animal Rescue and Care Society) have also been heavily involved, with the efforts acting as a collaboration between the three organisations.

The main focus for volunteers currently is the food and water stations.

“Every other day we go out to the same food stations and you check to see if the food is gone, you check to see if the water is gone, refill, change out, whatever needs to be done in that particular area,” Mrs Hulks said.

Regularly attending the stations allows for volunteers to observe the patterns of wildlife in the area and find out which areas have the greatest need for food and water.

“Some places we’re having to go and refill more than once a day, and in other places its dropped off completely,” Mrs Hulks said.

“In the last week I have dropped two stations because the green has come through enough that they don’t need the supplement feeding”.

“Other places there is no evidence of animals being there anymore, no footprints, no scat, no nothing, and that’s quite scary.”

Mrs Hulks would love to get more community members involved in the efforts, because she and the other volunteers are “drowning” in work.

“There is so much area that we are not covering and it’s terrible to think about these poor animals that managed to survive the fires yet are now dying of starvation,” she said.

Those who are interested in helping can be given the necessary equipment and supplies to set up and monitor their own feeding and water station at the volunteer hub in Batlow. The work can easily be divided among a few people, and would only require 1-2 hours of work a week according to Mrs Hulks.

Each feeding station must have its GPS coordinates documented so that the volunteers know which areas have been covered, and so that when the efforts are finished, everything can be collected again.

“It’s about being accountable for everything that we put out,” Mrs Hulks said.

Along with the feeding and water stations, volunteers are also planning to install various shelter boxes now that the colder months are approaching.

“All of these animals are reliant on hollows and all those hollows are now gone,” Mrs Hulks explained.

Installing the shelter boxes is a bigger effort than the feeding and water stations and will require a coordinated effort. Volunteers are planning to complete a mass installation on the weekend of March 14, and they are hoping to get more volunteers on board.

Those wishing to get involved can find all of the information on Facebook through the Dunn’s Road Fire Wildlife Assistance Group.