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Byron Shire
May 9, 2021

Sharing our habitat with wildlife

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Critters like this loveable little echidna 'puggle' are regularly rescued by Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers. Photo Perth Zoo
Critters like this loveable little echidna ‘puggle’ are regularly rescued by Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers. Photo Perth Zoo

Matthew Cusack

Up to 27 vulnerable or endangered species share habitat with residents of the north coast, including the red-legged pademelon and Fleay’s barred frog.

When these and other critters get into trouble, residents regularly call on the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers (NRWC) to help out.

Such a case happened recently, when a quick-thinking excavator operator saved a baby echidna.

‘At the moment we are caring for an echidna puggle, which is the name for a baby echidna,’ the group’s publicity officer Chrisy Clay told Echonetdaily.

‘He was accidentally dug up by an excavator operator on a property next to Bangalow cemetery.

‘The excavator driver called us and we came immediately.

‘Unfortunately it’s difficult to reunite puggles with their mothers in this situation, because the mother is unlikely to continue using the burrow,’ she said.

‘Baby echidnas are carried in their mother’s pouch, but when they start to become spiky they are left in the burrow.

‘At this time the mother goes hunting for food and only comes back to give her baby a big feed every three days, so we try to emulate this natural rhythm for puggles in our care.’

Native animals living close to urban areas like this are at particular risk and the majority of animals rescued by NRWC come from Lismore, Ballina and Byron Bay.

Now NRWC is calling for residents of these areas to give back some time and help out the helpers.

The group, which has been rescuing injured wildlife for more than 20 years, is holding a training day on Sunday March 9 at Southern Cross University, Lismore.

Chrisy will be showing participants how to rescue and assess injured wildlife.

For those who wish to enhance their skills, or have a desire to work with native wildlife, the NRWC can also provide a range of specific further training courses, throughout the year.

The introductory course costs $35 and includes a year’s membership and insurance with the NRWC.

This fee also helps to subsidise resources, to keep training costs minimal and helps to fund ongoing animal-rescue expenses.

Members can tailor their involvement as they wish but all course participants will receive a wildlife rehabilitation licence and no particular skills or experience are required.

For those considering volunteering, NRWC spokesperson Cheryl Cochran says, ‘regardless of how much time you have or where you live, there will be a role for you.’

Volunteer roles can include rescues, transport to vets or assistance with administration tasks.

People with wildlife-caring experience are welcome to help with educational work.

To get involved, contact: [email protected] or phone 6628 1866.

For more information on government conservation programs, follow the links at: www.environment.nsw.gov.au/threatenedspecies/.

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