Barossa Wildlife Rescue pushes through pandemic

Ms Rose Brooks of Barossa Wildlife Rescue with two baby Shingleback Lizards rescued during the COVID-19 social isolation period, affectionately known as Fred and Barney.

Operations are gradually returning to a sense of normality for Barossa Wildlife Rescue in Lyndoch, with help from a WIRES relief emergency grant.

The trifecta of drought, extreme summer conditions and COVID-19 presented a myriad of challenges for founder, Ms Rose Brooks and her dedicated team of volunteers, but there’s nothing nature can throw at this veteran wildlife carer that will stop her from helping animals in need.

“You’ve got to do it, mate! You’ve got to do it. They’ve still got heartbeats. You just get out there, we couldn’t afford to stop,” said Rose.

With drought already causing a desperate food shortage for wildlife, and extreme summer heat causing koalas to “drop out of the sky”, Barossa Wildlife Rescue already had its work cut out for it pre-coronavirus.

“We average eight koalas per year, we had 10 come in two weeks,” said Rose. 

“They’re compromised. Some of them have got Chlamydia, they hit the bottom of the tree where they can’t get up to get their food source because they’re so underweight and dehydrated… and a lot of their gum trees are dead anyway.”

Then the pandemic hit and Rose could no longer have her regular volunteers at the shelter, and food donations dried up as local restaurants stopped providing leftovers and other donors stayed away.

With the Barossa considered high risk due to the COVID-19 cluster, movement around the region to collect wildlife also became a challenge, but there was never a moment where Rose thought she would stop.

“It’s amazing what you can do,” she said.

“We had two Shingleback Lizards; their mum was attacked by a dog up in Balaklava. They needed care and I said bring them down to Owen. Then my friend from Hamley Bridge picked them up from Owen and I met him at the Sturt Highway.

“We made the best of it, going to meet people at the borders to hand over kangaroos and possums.”

Now, thanks to social restrictions easing and the grant from WIRES, which accessed excess money from bushfire donations, things are beginning to look up. 

Rose and her team have been able to purchase new cages, baskets and food supplies for the shelter, as well as provide a $500 food drop to Wombat Rise Sanctuary in Sandleton near Sedan, where wildlife have been suffering severely during the drought. 

“It came just in time for us over the drought period,” said Rose. 

“We’ve been able to stock up on lucerne and pellets and all of that… It’s like, you feed your children first, and yourself last!”

Barossa Wildlife Rescue is ready to welcome donations of fruit, vegetables, hay, lucerne, pony pellets from the public again, or monetary donations.

Rose asks the community to do their bit in terms of helping wildlife that have been hurt on the roads.

“If people hit a kangaroo and it’s bad, they’ve got to ring the police on 131444 and log a call. They’ll give you a job number so we can keep track of it,” she said.

“Stop, check that kangaroo and call it in.”

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