Wires crossed between rescue groups

WIRES became crossed when a new wildlife rescue group claimed to be providing an emergency phone service for them.

A media release entitled 'WIRES Refuses to Accept Animals into Care?' said that from October 1, Wildlife Rescue Incorporated (WRI) would provide a 24/7 emergency phone service to WIRES, fielding calls from members of the public wanting to report native animals in distress.

It said the service would operate from a call centre in Coffs Harbour and according to the release was established "because of the considerable difficulty branches of WIRES are having in getting volunteers to answer their emergency phones and in finding rescuers".

WRI does not have permission from the National Parks and Wildlife Service to care for the animals and would instead co-ordinate rescue responses.

However, WIRES Mid North Coast branch secretary Judi Wood said WRI would hinder rather than help with wildlife rescues.

"I think they will get in our way, confusing the public about who to call," Ms Wood said.

"Our service is not perfect and we have trouble covering phones and finding rescuers but considering the volume of calls, which is 7000 a year, I don't think we do a bad job."

She said WRI misquoted WIRES saying animals would not be accepted into their care unless volunteers got a call number before the rescue.

"WIRES Mid North Coast regrets any concern that may have been created by the misquoting of a message to its members relating to the need to register the intake of all animals as soon as possible."

Ms Wood said the message to members was actually as follows: "Please get a call number before the rescue if at all possible or as soon after as humanly possible. Then report the animal's intake to the relevant species coordinator within 24 hours at the most (preferably much sooner) and work out a case plan with that co-ordinator."

Furthermore the WRI press release said: "Vets in the area are concerned that if they accept an animal rescued by a Wildlife Rescue member, WIRES may refuse to take the animal into care after treatment, thus leaving the vet with an 'unwanted' animal.

Ms Wood said she was approached for comment on the WRI release but her response was disregarded. "Local vets were contacted and informed that all Wildlife Rescue volunteers should be treated as members of the public dropping in injured animals. From here the wild- life would be picked up and cared for by WIRES."

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