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6628 1866

Sandy Norris

Jan 252014

Do people ever have the right to wage war against another species?

In the state of Queensland, vulnerable flying foxes are under assault. Threatened even in their maternity colonies – where the pups are born and raised with care to flying age –these vegetarian native mega bats are now being pushed towards extinction. Flying foxes are mammals and their incredible maternal instincts bind mothers and their offspring closely together. Mothers will grieve as they search over many days for lost babies.

Habitat destruction, persecution at roost sites, officially sanctioned and illegal shooting, trapping in backyard fruit tree netting, snaring on barbed wire, or electrocution on power lines. Along with starvation events and extreme weather, these threats all combine to undermine the long-term survival of our largest bats.

Flying foxes have been a part of Australia’s night skies for millions of years. In the language of biodiversity, they are ‘keystone species’, having evolved an important symbiotic relationship with our forests. The Australian Government’s own environment department says flying foxes play a vital role in keeping our ecosystems in good health, pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds as they forage on the nectar and pollen of eucalypts and other flora, and on the fruits of rainforest trees and vines.

Although officially protected native wildlife in Australia, a handover of powers to local councils by the Queensland Government is seeing the brutal dispersal of flying fox camps at any time of the year, including maternity colonies. Inevitably, babies not yet able to fly face harm or even death through injury or starvation.

Animal welfare is being cast aside. Human animosity, fear and misunderstanding have reached a new crescendo, with many people being alarmed and desensitized by inflammatory media coverage and political populism. Meanwhile, a small band of specialist bat caregivers pick up after the carnage. And many more people watch on in horror … crying out for better information about health and other issues… all desperately seeking a workable solution for bats and people to live in harmony.

Dispersals rarely work and merely force survivors to find new roosting sites, to face new confrontations. Defenseless babies are isolated from their mothers, which are then denied the opportunity to retrieve their pups. Highly aggressive methods are being deployed, such as helicopters, water cannons, screeching sirens, paint ball guns,fireworks, acrid smoke,even noisy mowers, chain saws and brush cutters. The horror and fear for those unable to escape is unimaginable.
Will our forests continue to resonate with the calls of these environmentally essential fauna? Or will ignorance and failing government policies cause our bat populations to disappear like so many other species of mammals before them?

If Queensland can’t look after ecologically valuable protected species like flying foxes, how can it be trusted with the rest of our precious environment?
Help us save our flying foxes.

Bats. Protect them or lose them

 January 25, 2014  Advocacy, Animals, General information
Jan 082014
A Squirrel Glider rescued by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers after being attacked by a roaming pet cat.  Squirrel Gliders are a threatened species found regularly in the Northern Rivers

A Squirrel Glider rescued by the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers after being attacked by a roaming pet cat. Squirrel Gliders are a threatened species found regularly in the Northern Rivers

A roaming pet cat was to blame for the death of an adult Squirrel Glider. Unfortunately, it’s a regular occurrence for wildlife carers to rescue native animals that have been attacked by domestic pets. Often their injuries are so severe that they do not survive, as was the case for the rescued Squirrel Glider, which is a threatened species in NSW.

The Australian Veterinary Association have estimated that domestic cats kill around 75 million native Australian animals a year. Not many native species are safe from cats, which can catch and kill birds, gliders, possums, bandicoots and many other small mammals, reptiles, and frogs. The extent of their impact is so serious that the Federal Government has listed the cat as a threatening processes for wildlife (along with climate change, foxes, habitat fragmentation and disease). For people who live in areas of high biodiversity, such as the Northern Rivers, the potential impact of pet cats could be even higher.

Caring for the victims of cat attack is a distressing task for members of the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers. It is also frustrating, as it’s fairly simple to prevent such attacks. With statistics indicating that over 3 million cats are now kept as pets across Australia, cat owners have an important role to play in minimising their impact on wildlife.

Bringing your cat inside at night is a good idea as many of Australia’s small marsupials are nocturnal. However if your cat is allowed outside in the morning they can continue chasing and stalking local wildlife during the day, especially birds and lizards.

The only guaranteed way of preventing your cat from killing wildlife is to keep it inside permanently. Many people initially find this to be a challenging idea, as they want their pets to be able to access fresh air, grass and the chance to sunbake. For these reasons, the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers recommend installing a cat run. Cat runs are becoming very popular, and allow your cat to go outside but still be restrained. Nowadays there are many different companies specialising in cat runs and some can be ordered over the internet.

A cat run that a Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers member has installed for their own pet cats

A cat run that a Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers member has installed for their own pet cats

In the fight to conserve native animals, the best place to start is at home. Decide how you will reduce your cat’s impact on the surrounding environment and the local birds, possums, bandicoots and lizards will thank you.

If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866.

 January 8, 2014  Animals, General information
Dec 162013

hunter_storm999x509Look out for injured wildlife after summer storms!

Now that the warmer months are upon us, it’s the start of the summer storm season. Each summer, thunderstorms lash the Northern Rivers. But it’s not just humans who are badly affected by storm damage; wildlife can also lose their homes, have problems finding food or be injured by hail and falling trees.

Storms with hail and strong wind can strip trees and shrubs of their cover, and when storms bring down big, old trees there are less hollows for animals to nest in. Heavy rain and wind reduce the amount of food on offer, particularly for nectar eaters. After rain many flowering trees have had their nectar and pollen simply washed away.

Native animals may also be injured or orphaned during storms. In previous years the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers have rescued many birds injured and orphaned after hail storms. Ringtail possums also seem to be vulnerable during storms, with many adults and juveniles rescued after falling from high trees.

So during the storm season, what can we do to help our native animals? After the storm has passed, be aware that some native animals may need assistance. Keep an eye out for injured animals and be particularly careful when letting your domestic pets outside again, as they will quickly find any injured animals on the ground. If you find any injured or orphaned animals please ring the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on their 24hr hotline number 6628 1866 and remember not to handle flying foxes.

You may think there is plenty of water available after a storm, but clean drinking water is very important for wildlife. Clean out and refill bird baths and place extra dishes out for birds and animals after the storm. Build and install some nest boxes to replace any hollows lost during the storm and replant your garden with native species.

These simple steps will give local wildlife a helping hand if a severe storm passes through your area this summer.

 December 16, 2013  General information
Oct 082013


Ekka in the garden

Adapted from an article written by Chrisy Clay for the Ballina Shire Advocate. The social networking site, Facebook, has shown its value to local wildlife by helping to identify a badly injured echidna in need of aid.

Last month a Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers’(NRWC) Facebook follower sent the organisation some photos of a young echidna they were seeing regularly in their backyard. The echidna was unconcerned by the family’s attention and appeared normal.

The photographs were forwarded to the NRWC echidna specialist who became concerned about the animal’s appearance and recent behaviour. A phone call later, and it was agreed that if the echidna was seen again that the McLeans Ridge family would attempt to rescue it and bring it into care for veterinary assessment.

The next day the echidna was captured and when examined was found to have deep lacerations under both front legs. The wounds were infected and contained pieces of nylon netting. These wounds weren’t apparent in the photos.

It appears the echidna had become entangled in the nylon netting which surrounded a neighbour’s vegetable garden and in trying to free itself had been severely injured.

The echidna was transported to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for specialist treatment and care, where it was immediately given pain relief and antibiotics. It’s unknown how long the echidna was injured before it was rescued but the specialist veterinarians believe it could have been up to a few weeks.

Unfortunately the echidna survived only three days in intensive care at the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital before succumbing to infection. Although an incredibly sad rescue for those involved, the echidna would have suffered much more if it had not been rescued.

Please remember that if you are using nylon netting, either for protecting fruit trees or gardens, ensure it has very small holes: so small you can’t push your finger through them. Only this small size will prevent wildlife from becoming entangled. The Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers recue many animals every year that have become trapped in backyard netting. Almost all of these animals suffer severe injuries like this echidna.

If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866. Check out our Facebook page at

 October 8, 2013  Animals, Blog, General information
Oct 012013

Sarah Curran I'm planting trees

I’m planting trees

Tim Pearson dedicates his time to researching one of Australia’s great unsung ecological heroes – the Flying Fox. In this touching and illuminating talk, Tim argues that we should give them superstar status, and care more about these creatures and the vital work they do. It’s a very informative and entertaining presentation, make sure you watch it all the way through. You can watch it by clicking on the link below:

 October 1, 2013  Advocacy, Animals, General information
Sep 282013

Brown tree snake, in strike position
As the weather warms up, Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers are getting lots of calls regarding snakes. The points below give some general advice on what to do if you see a snake…..

• If you see a snake outside, stand still, then slowly walk away from it, they are short sighted and chances are they haven’t seen you but will pick up sudden movements or vibrations through the ground.

• Keep children and pets away.

• Observe the snake from a safe distance and call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers for advice on 6628 1866.

• If working outdoors or bushwalking always wear long pants and closed in shoes. Snakes live in a range of habitats, so even during your trip to beach you need to be aware when walking through the dunes.

• During the warmer months, don’t walk around your backyard in the dark barefoot or with thongs on. It’s surprisingly common for people to step on snakes at night, and during summer snakes can still be out and about after sunset.

• If you find a snake in your house do not disturb it, leave the room, close doors and jam a towel or something similar under the door to prevent it escaping, call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers. If snake is contained in a room it will be much easier for a snake handler to locate and remove.

• We get many calls for brown snakes, however there are over six species of snakes in the Northern Rivers that are brown coloured but only two are considered dangerous, the Eastern Brown snake (which is seen all over the area) and the Rough Scaled snake which is only seen in rural/ forested areas.

• The colour of some species of snakes can vary greatly, so colour is not a reliable way to identify them.

• Snakes only live where there is food, shelter and water. Keep lawns short and paths clear, and don’t leave piles of rubble, iron or timber lying around in your backyard. Store things away, up off the ground if you can. Gaps in rock retaining walls should be concreted, particularly if the wall is close to your house as snakes will love to bask and hide within them.

• If you have birds or chickens it’s really important to keep rodent populations under control. Don’t leave grain or seed lying around that will attract mice and rats, as they in turn attract a number of different snake species. Chook pens, bird aviaries and rabbit hutches all need to be wired with 1cm squared wire and have no gaps – you would be amazed at how small a gap a carpet python can squeeze into!

• The majority of snake bites occur either when someone accidentally stands on one, or if they try to harm or kill the snake. Bottom line, watch where you put your feet and if you do see a snake – leave it alone and it will give you a wide berth.

Green tree Snake

 September 28, 2013  General information
Sep 192013

Spring has arrived, and the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers are preparing for ‘magpie swooping season’. It’s this time of year when some magpies defend their nest from cats, dogs, other birds, even people; swooping them if they come too close.

“Every year the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers receive many calls regarding swooping magpies, and it appears that swooping is more aggressive and prolonged in built-up urban areas”, says spokesperson Chrisy Clay.

In urban areas, magpies can also feed on food found in garbage bins, parks and playgrounds and are also often fed directly by residents. Consequently, these urban birds need much smaller territories to sustain themselves and live in closer contact with other magpies. These cramped territories are thought to significantly heighten their protective, swooping behaviour to the point where anything or anyone entering the area is seen as an intruder.

“What’s really interesting, is that research from Griffith University has also found that many magpies that swoop pedestrians, can repeatedly choose similar looking individuals”, says Chrisy.

The research suggests these magpies may have had a negative experience in the past. Someone may have thrown rocks or sticks at them or have harmed their chicks and they have swooped similar looking people ever since.

“For those reasons we are asking for a degree of tolerance from the community”, says Chrisy.

“It’s important to remember that not every breeding magpie swoops, and there really are very few options for managing the behaviour. Relocation is not an option as magpies are territorial and to release a bird into another’s territory will result in their death”, says Chrisy.

In extreme cases, some magpies are euthanased because of the danger they pose to pedestrians.

“However research has identified any benefit is likely to be short-lived. The vacant territory will be quickly taken over by another magpie and given the same set of circumstances it is likely to also swoop next breeding season”.

There are a number of ways you can protect yourself from swooping magpies during this time. Firstly, be aware. From now until the end of October and sometimes into November, magpies are breeding and some may swoop. Identify areas where magpies are swooping, and avoid them if possible. If it is not possible, protect your head and eyes when walking in these areas, the best protection being an open umbrella.

Baby Magpie

“Thankfully, swooping season is relatively short-lived, usually only lasting six weeks. For the most part magpies are relatively harmless and easily defended off with an umbrella”, says Chrisy.

To assist with identifying areas where magpies are swooping the National Parks and Wildlife Service and Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers have temporary signs that can be erected.

 September 19, 2013  Animals, Blog
Sep 032013


The tub ‘Splash’ was found in


Splash on release day with Cheryl, Chrisy & Isabella

Release day for ‘Splash’ the echidna was a special day for property owner Cheryl and Northern Rivers Wildlife carer Chrisy.

Splash was a very unusual case, he was rescued from a disused aquaculture tank on Cheryl’s property at Tucki Tucki. It’s likely, judging from his condition, that the echidna had been stuck in the tank in shallow water for a number of days, before being discovered. Echidnas are quite good climbers but the smooth, deep sides of the tank prevented it from getting back out. Thankfully they’re also proficient swimmers, a skill which no doubt saved Splash’s life.

When Splash was rescued, he was tired and weak, and had picked up a very severe skin infection from being in the water for so long. He has also lost most of his fur.

The echidna was transported to the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital for a thorough assessment to ensure he had no further injuries. Once the skin infection was responding to treatment, Splash was brought back into the care of NRWC member Chrisy. Here Splash stayed for a further two months whilst his skin slowly healed and he returned to strength.

Returning Splash back to Cheryl’s farm on the banks of the Wilsons River was a rewarding occasion, but the animal had left his mark on its carer, with Chrisy saying that she would miss the cheeky echidna.

Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers is a local, independent organisation who has been part of the Northern Rivers since 1992. Dedicated to rescuing and rehabilitating injured and orphaned wildlife, we rescue many animals like Splash every year. If you find any injured or orphaned wildlife, please call the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers on 6628 1866.

 September 3, 2013  Animals