Medal of the Order of Australia recipient Donna Stepan has urged the government to do more as the country’s wombat population suffer from an outbreak of mange – a skin disease that, for wombats, often leads to a painful death.
Mites, which cause mange, reach deep into the wombats’ skins, causing Australia’s beloved animal to itch until they bleed. These wounds and scabs often lead to a deadly infection.
Stepan, who heads up Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary in rural New South Wales, said on August 14 in a Facebook post they were forced to put down more than 30 wombats affected by mange, and that over 50 more cases were reported within 10 days. She pleaded for action and called on the government to step up.
“It is going to be long, hard work and maybe, just maybe the government will wake up to themselves, listen to us and forego a parliamentary lunch or two or donate a weeks worth of coffee to the wombats and help us get this to the scale it is required at.
“The first part of this project is to start quarantine facilities at the sanctuary and two other sanctuaries. We then intend for this to grow, to fund more quarantine structures and to work with wildlife groups and the community to stop our wombats from dying out,” she said.
When asked about the skin disease’s affect in the area, Stepan told Storyful: “It is now past epidemic proportions and rampant throughout NSW … We have over 700 reported cases now to the sanctuary, and we shoot almost daily the ones who are dying on their own feet.”
ACT Wildlife has also discussed the need to tackle wombat mange. Credit: Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary via Storyful