This month’s column focuses on the impact of ex-tropical cyclone Oswald on local wildlife. Weather events like this are natural, but it’s just another pressure on top of all the other human induced hazards wildlife face. And, that’s not even considering climate change and the impact increased extreme weather events like this will have.
Oswald sends wildlife hotline into overdrive
As appeared in the Ballina Shire Advocate on Thursday 14th February, 2013.
As ex-tropical cyclone Oswald lashed the North Coast with wind and rain, the Northern Rivers Wildlife Carers rescue hotline went into overdrive. Not surprisingly, tree-dwelling animals and birds were the hardest hit.The majority of calls received by the rescue hotline were for birds, and experience has shown that they suffer the most during storms. Without shelter or reprieve, birds quickly become exhausted and waterlogged. In particular, birds that are too young to fly or are still nest bound are extremely vulnerable. Belted by the strong wind, rain and falling branches, many birds were rescued with significant injuries.
|Very young birds, like this Crested Pigeon, are extremely vulnerable during severe storms.|
Interestingly, over the Australia Day long weekend a number of seabirds were rescued from as far inland as Kyogle. Presumably blown inland by the strong winds, once identified as seabirds they were transferred to Australian Seabird Rescue.Tree-dwelling animals such as possums and gliders also find storm events hazardous, and many are rescued after falling from high trees. Again, young animals are quite vulnerable, easily losing their footing or grip of their mothers back. A number of Ringtail Possums were rescued after the storm, as was a family of Sugar Gliders after the tree in which they were nesting, came down. Reports were also received of koalas falling from trees.
|Two young Sugar Gliders rescued during the Australia Day long weekend when the tree their family was nesting in was blown over.|
Helping native wildlife after a significant weather event like Oswald – is as simple as just being 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.