Help save our wildlife

WIRES animal rescue group is struggling due to lack of donations.

A STRANGE and surreal story. I was woken last week by the screeching of birds. Such a cacophony that I had to put two pillows over my head. But it wouldn’t stop.

I glanced up to see that my cat, usually the cause, was asleep. Suddenly I heard my cleaning lady, Eva, cry: “Ruth, what is it?” She was shaken, standing on the veranda of my little Bondi house. “Ruth… it moved,” she said, nervously pointing at what looked to be a large, stuffed toy perched at my front door. She’s from Hungary and had not seen anything like it before.

It was a tawny frogmouth – a nocturnal bird often mistaken for an owl.

Neckless, and with a massive beak, it looked very odd. Blackbirds and others were swooping but it had somehow made its way under my balcony. The high winds had blown it down during the night, and although a bird of prey, daylight had rendered it vulnerable.

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From my years in Byron Bay I knew I needed to call wildlife rescuers WIRES. Within two hours, permanent volunteer Barry was holding the distressed bird in his capable hands. “It’s fine. Keep it here till dark then let it back out into the trees. They have mates. The mate would be circling up there waiting desperately for it.” At nightfall I stood with the cage open and watched it spread its wings and fly.

WIRES handles over 150,000 calls a year in NSW and is affiliated with groups in other states that are equally committed to saving animals that have been maimed by cars or hurt, often by human interaction.

I asked Barry what I could do to help. And here it is. They’ve just lost one of their two vans due to lack of funding. The NSW-based group needs $100,000 a year to keep the rescue van on the road. With 98 per cent of funding coming from private donations, the volunteer organisation relies heavily on public support. With the end of financial year drawing nigh, it would be wonderful if my readers could give a tax-deductible pledge at 1300 094 737 or

Counterparts include Sydney Wildlife at: Wildlife Victoria, and Wildcare Australia in Queensland. Meanwhile for non-native birds and animals many other groups like RSPCA need our help.

Have you had the joy of saving an animal?

Please share your stories and inspire us all to donate to animal welfare causes (most are tax deductible) as the financial year comes to an end.

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21 Responses to Help save our wildlife

  1. Ruth Ostrow 15 December 2011 at 8:45 pm #

    yes i know, sadly.

  2. melissa rimac 26 November 2011 at 12:31 am #

    Hi Ruth,
    I applaud your concern for animals and I don’t want to retrace old ground, but re your cats …. cats DO also hunt in the daytime and the sound of a bell is usually the last thng a bird hears before it dies.

  3. Margie Robinson 14 July 2011 at 12:50 pm #

    Hello again Ruth

    I just wanted to thank you for the piece you wrote ‘A wild night’ in the Weekend Australian Magazine (25th – 26th June edition) which included the rescue by WIRES. We received several donations including yours so a huge thanks from us and the animals!

    Thanks again
    Margie @ WIRES

  4. Margie Robinson 14 July 2011 at 11:19 am #

    Hello Ruth…what an exceptional woman you are!
    Not only caring about Wildlife yourself but helping us here at WIRES help our wildlife.
    Just wanted to invite you for a rare opportunity in our WIRES Rescue Ambulance sometime in September to see first hand some of our rescues. Lots of babies are born in spring so lots of rescues!
    Please let us know if you would like to experience this for a day or a few hours!
    Thanks again for lifting awareness for all animals!
    Margie @ WIRES

  5. Diane 29 June 2011 at 3:26 pm #

    Last year, our labrador was dementedly sniffing up and down a completely covered drainage channel in the garden. A cursory look at a wet dirty furry mass led us to think a large rat was stuck in the drain … not to be. It was a ringtailed possum and to this day we have no idea how it could have found its way to that spot. Assuming it was dead, I levered the covering off the drain and with a towel, covered the body and lifted it gingerly out. Said possum was actually alive – freezing cold and filthy. I took it into the laundry and using a tiny amount of pet shampoo, washed it – the water ran black and friends later were agog that I wasn’t torn to shreds. This little being knew I was trying to help it and co-operated fully. I gently rubbed it dry and wrapped it in clean warm towels and settled it into a covered box. I called WIRES and later that evening, took the wrapped possum in the box to a carer. She examined the possum, declaring it an adult female in surprisingly good condition. She kept it overnight and fed it. Next evening, she came to my house and put the possum in a soft meshy ‘ball’ contraption that she hung in a tree – high enough to be well hidden. We left our little Houdini to return to her family – which she must have done, because the cupboard was bare a few days later. WIRES carers are the best!

  6. Barbara Thompson 29 June 2011 at 7:16 am #

    You were one of the priveleged to experience the joy of releasing a wild animal back into the wild. It is the most satisfying aspect of being a wildlife carer.
    Having been a wildlife carer for some years, I have numerous memories. However, one of the more memorable was the rainbow lorikeet stuck on a ledge 3/4 of the way up a chimney flue. It took considerable ingenuity to get a mop head up the flue for a better perc and then to raise it to the top so that the bird could join it’s mate which was calling anxiously from above. At the end, the pair flew off happily, the house owner stopped crying and I was covered in a thick layer of soot.
    Apart from the donations which you mentioned, another way that people can help wildlife carer groups is to join them. It needn’t involve a lot of time. In a group, we all work as a team, eg we have members who answer our hotline telephone for 1 day a month or assist with fundraising 1 morning a month. It all helps the animals.

  7. Ruth Ostrow 26 June 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Thanks for your comment. Yes, I have answered this on numerous occasions and you will notice the response above. I keep my cats (plural) well away from wildlife. Bells, in at night, and watched by me while I work in the day, in my courtyard where they spend most of their time. Doesn’t mean 100 per cent success rate. And there has had to be the odd rescue. But then again there have had to be rescues for birds flying into my glass window, and the other day a baby was badly wounded from falling while trying to fly. Very sad; it died. But I remain a vigilant lover of animals and that includes –for better or for worse — my two gorgeous Persian Himalayan fluffy cats.

  8. S Hepburn 26 June 2011 at 7:59 pm #

    Dear Ruth
    While I applaud your support of WIRES and the publicity you’ve given , as a wildlife carer I was dismayed at your comment re your cat. I hope that “…usually the cause…” doesn’t mean that it is in the habit of upsetting/killing our native bird life. There are many websites with helpful information about keeping cats and fauna separated. Regards, Sally Hepburn

  9. virtuals alibi 25 June 2011 at 6:37 pm #

    some years ago in rural WA my significant other at the time spotted a roo that had been hit by a car. it was still alive but disabled and unable to move. after a few phone calls she was finally told the local constabulary would attend and promptly resolve the issue. while the officers would not have been armed with a .303 rifle, from what we were told, they would have applied “rule 303”.

  10. Rosie Bryant 25 June 2011 at 5:04 pm #

    Cheers Ruth. I appreciate that. I have not ‘blogged’ before so am feeling my way with it.

  11. Ruth Ostrow 25 June 2011 at 4:47 pm #

    thanks again Rosie i moved your other letter to the right place ie under four corners cruelty. I know it can be hard navigating around places to comment on blogs. Warm regards

  12. Rosie Bryant 25 June 2011 at 4:23 pm #

    Yes over the years I have helped prevent hundreds of adult cattle starving, pulled numerous numbers of roos bogged in drying dams out of the sludge, struggled and battled with orphan calves, lambs, birds, joeys etc etc. And if the salvaging of all of the above has not been possible I have loaded the rifle and put them out of their misery or as happened yesterday, no fifle on hand, a roo with a broken leg so I had to hit it over the head with a mallet. And there is not much to me but I do what so many of my fellow rural women do, mind the animals. I do not belong to any wildlife society or the RSPCA for that matter. In fact I am most skeptical with regard to many of these organizations. We here in the bush often ask ‘when the times are tough for the animals ( not just the sheep and cattle either ) where are the ones who proclaim to be such ardent animal lovers’. Conspicuous by their absence for the most part. Sadly it is very difficult not to be a little cynical.

  13. Ruth Ostrow 25 June 2011 at 1:18 pm #

    Thank you, your number has been published and I will put it up on the website itself tomorrow for donations.

  14. 25 June 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    There is another very active native wildlife rescue group operating in the Sydney metropolitan area , Sydney Metropolitan Wildlife Service. We , like WIRES handle many thousand calls every year , and we have NO government funding , and NO vans , as WIRES do . We are all volunteers , manning the phones 24/7,rescuing native creatures and caring for them at our own cost until they are ready for release.

    We too , desparately need donations to be able to continue our much needed work.
    Our rescue contact no. 24/7 is 02 94134300.

    Our website:

  15. Lee Burns 25 June 2011 at 10:41 am #

    I volunteer one morning a week at Native Arc, a similar non-profit organization based in WA.
    My favourite story so far is a guy called and said there was a bird on his roof in the morning and was still there when he got home from work and appeared to be stuck. So Dean, the volunteer coordinator [who is 19 mind you, and volunteers 7 days a week then works late shifts for money!] goes out and finds a whit barn owl stuck on the TV antennae. He and another volunteer climb up un the roof and attach a ladder up to the antennae. Dean climbs up while the other volunteer holds the ladder whilst standing on the roof. He sees that the owl has landed in some araldite or super glue and its talons are firmly stuck. He manages to gently prize the talons off, while staying out of the way of them and collects the bird. The poor thing had been strugling there for at least 8 hours.When I was at Native Arc the next day, I went into the hospital room and saw one volunteer holding the owl whilst Dean was painstakingly removing dry bits of glue from the owls talons. We kept him for a day and fed him dead mice, then released him the following night in a park close to where he was found.
    I would love to email you a pic of him if poss, the most beautiful bird I have ever seen. Thank you for your Tawny story Ruth, they are my favourite!

  16. Ruth Ostrow 24 June 2011 at 7:45 pm #

    They are busy enough with natives. I feel sorry for them because most carers try hard to get to every case of animals hit on the road and animals who are wounded but have limited people vans and time given they are a voluntary organisation which is why I am calling for donations in my coming column. As for vets having to kill non native birds I find this barbaric. The animals are here now, they exist now. Who has the right to kill any living creature. Makes my blood boil.

  17. Ruth Ostrow 24 June 2011 at 7:43 pm #

    I understand you’re point. I don’t let them out at night when they hunt. I feed them very well and there is always food in a plate, and I have bells on their necks. For a while I cut their nails but this is cruel in case they are trying to escape a dog and need to get up a tree fast. Once you start banning cats, then what about dogs – dog’s bite children. There has to be responsibility on behalf of the owners and all animals ALL animals have a right to life – all insects too if you ask me.

  18. Simon K 24 June 2011 at 7:40 pm #

    I’ve written before. Ruth I can’t believe you are a cat lover and an animal activist. You’ve got to be joking. Cats kill so many creatures. How can you be so hypocritical.

  19. Maddy 24 June 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    It’s impossible to know what the species is unless you are a bird expert. I had the same dilemma myself and the vet was asking me to identify the bird – and I was on the Internet looking at tiny photos trying to work out if the bird was brown with a green fleck or a yellow fleck. The poor bird’s life was dependent on such a minute detail

  20. Melissa 24 June 2011 at 7:33 pm #

    Sadly I found that WIRES wouldn’t come and help save a bird I had rescued because it was not indigenous and the vet wanted to kill it unless I came and picked it up from them. They told me that legally they were obliged to kill non native birds so DON’T go to the vet if you save one. In the end it died naturally at the vet but I would have had a bad time making the decision to euthanase if I had to make that call.

  21. Kray 24 June 2011 at 7:29 pm #

    I saved a lovely tiny green bird from a cat. Took the little thing right out of it’s mouth. The cat was going to swallow it whole. It was surprisingly unharmed. I felt wonderful that I had that short time with it. Animals have such a profound effect on us.

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