'912 calls in 48 hours': Mission to rescue Victoria's flood-affected wildlife

·3-min read

Animal rescue teams have been working through the night as wild weather and flooding continue to impact Victoria.

On Friday morning, Wildlife Victoria confirmed it has responded to 912 calls in 48 hours, with staff and volunteers scrambling to handle the influx.

With the extreme weather event likely to be prolonged, the charity’s CEO Lisa Palma fears the number of rescue calls will increase to record levels.

Left - Wildlife workers assessing a magpie in the back of their van. Right - close up of the magpie.
Wildlife Victoria received 912 calls for assistance in just 48 hours. Source: AAP / Wildlife Vic

“The highest number of calls we've had in 24 hours was 953 at the same time last year after one day of very bad storms,” she told Yahoo News Australia.

“The challenge that we've got with this severe weather event is it's prolonged.

“What we typically see is a huge influx of calls once the severe weather starts to subside, and people start going out and checking their properties and backyards.”

Which species are being affected by the flooding?

Most of the calls for assistance have been for waterlogged birds, but there have also been large numbers of orphaned possums and displaced kangaroos.

Because the flooding has occurred in spring, most mature animals and birds are raising dependent young which are more susceptible to the conditions.

A car submerged in flood waters at Maribyrnong, in front of a house.
Thousands of Victorians have been forced to evacuate due to flooding. Source: AAP

Sadly because of dangerous conditions and the threat to human life, rescuers have not always been able to assist.

On Thursday, rescuers were called to assist a mob of kangaroos that had become trapped by rising flood waters at Kyneton in the Macedon Rangers.

Wildlife Victoria confirmed they were unable to reach the animals, and all but two are presumed drowned.

How can the public help flood-impacted wildlife?

Wildlife Victoria is the state's peak rescue group and is run as a not-for-profit charity, with most of its members volunteers.

Only 10 per cent of its revenue comes from government and it is yet to secure funding past the end of 2022.

A wet ringtail possum curled up in a blanket.
Large numbers of ringtail possums have been rescued from the flooding. Source: Wildlife Victoria

"We are pretty much 100 per cent reliant on the public to support the life-saving work we do," Ms Palma said.

"Of course at this time of year, we've had to double the number of staff on shift and we're all working around the clock along with our fabulous volunteer rescuers across the state."

Anyone wishing to donate to the charity can do so here.

Wet conditions likely to persist

As the wild weather continues, thousands of Victorians have been advised to evacuate.

While Australia often experiences droughts and floods, the extreme weather affecting Victoria is the result of a La Niña event. Climate change makes flooding more severe and frequent.

University of Melbourne climate expert Dr Andrew King believes wet conditions will likely persist at least until the end of spring.

La Niña increases the chance of more widespread rain events across Australia and higher rain totals in the east and north,” he said.

“An early 2023 weakening of La Niña is forecast but predicting when these events finish is challenging so Australians should prepare for wet conditions to continue."

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