Supporting wildlife rescue efforts in fire-ravaged east Gippsland

Theresa Matthews with Sale nurses Jo Blake (standing) and Sandra Smuller, who have joined in the support efforts to help east Gippsland wildlife shelters.

Theresa Matthews with Sale nurses Jo Blake (standing) and Sandra Smuller, who have joined in the support efforts to help east Gippsland wildlife shelters.

LOCAL wildlife carers and animal lovers are banding together to support and provide for wildlife rehabilitation centres in east Gippsland, as the fires continue to rage and cause massive wildlife deaths.

While Wellington Shire has largely been spared, the plight of millions of animals further east has not been lost on those with a passion for all living creatures.

Golden Beach wildlife shelter owner Theresa Matthews has been indirectly affected by the fires further east, with many of the wildlife shelters she regularly liaises with razed to the ground, and two kangaroo release sites also burnt.

"I am devastated and we all feel so helpless, because there isn't much we can do from here," she said.

Fire zones are being managed by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, but as access to most burnt areas is not allowed because of the ongoing fire risk, the rescue of injured wildlife has been limited.

Only registered wildlife personnel with fire awareness training will be allowed into the zones, but only if invited by DELWP to do so.

The few animals that have been found have been taken to rehabilitation centres closer to Bairnsdale.

Theresa says she still does not know the extent of the damage to many of her friends' wildlife shelters, or whether animals that have been previously rehabilitated and released in those areas have survived.

"It is truly heart-breaking, and we can't do much from here," she said.

The shining light that has come out of the events of recent days has been the offers of help from random strangers across the country.

Theresa's husband 'Scruff ' said they were receiving calls every day from people unsure of the geography of Gippsland, saying 'we want to come and help,' or 'we want to donate'.

"They call from Melbourne and elsewhere, and we have to keep telling them that we haven't been affected here, and their offers need to go to east Gippsland, where the need is.

"We thank them for their generosity and pass on the information about where they can help and how they can find out more."

Sale nurses Jo Blake and Sandra Smuller are also helping to direct donations to east Gippsland, and have joined the Animal Rescue Collective (East Gippsland) so they can collect and deliver donations for distribution.

Jo said she and Sandra were moved to tears by the vision of injured wildlife, and jumped into action to be part of the growing Animal Rescue Collective support team.

"We are collecting supplies for them, and organising things at this end, so that vital food gets to the animals that need it," she said.

The Animal Rescue Collective is now mainly seeking cash donations to buy specialist wildlife food such as kangaroo pellets and marsupial milk replacer, fodder for stock and domestic animal food.

Anyone who wants to donate can visit the Animal Rescue Collective Facebook page at facebook.com/animalrescuecollective for more information.

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