NSW prisoners helping out itchy wombats

·1-min read

Prisoners in a NSW Snowy Mountains jail are helping the local wombat population by making a unique device that administers life-saving medication to mite-infested marsupials.

Cooma jail staff and inmates have built 1000 burrow trap-doors, which tilt and pour medication onto wombats as they enter and leave their underground homes.

Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue vice president Elena Guarracino said the device was a game changer in the fight against mange, a potentially deadly skin disease caused by microscopic mites.

"Often it's not possible to get close enough to a wombat to apply the medication so the burrow flaps provide a simple yet highly effective way to treat the disease," Ms Guarracino said in a statement on Monday.

Wombats don't have immunity to the mange mite, which is very itchy and causes the marsupials to develop wounds and thick scabs, dehydration and malnutrition and if left untreated will kill a wombat within two years.

Corrective Services NSW Industries Manager George Hancock said the four minimum-security inmates jumped at the opportunity to help.

"The men gain skills using hand tools such as band saws but more importantly learn to take pride in their work, knowing they are giving back," he said.

Wildlife groups such as LAOKO - Snowy Mountains Wildlife Rescue ensure the maintenance of these burrow trap-doors by keeping them in position, replacing damaged ones, and refilling them with the medication.