Wollondilly vets call on residents to help local wildlife

Wollondilly vets desperate to keep providing treatment to sick native animals have appealed for locals to dig deep and donate to a care fund.

The Avian, Reptile and Exotic Pet Hospital (AREPH) team, along Werombi Road in Brownlow Hill, has experienced a huge spike in the number of native animals arriving for treatment and can no longer afford to absorb all of the resulting surgical and medical costs.

AREPH commercial and clinical services director Keith Merchant said their workload had gone from 500 cases annually a few years ago to nearly 900 last year.

"As the area has grown we have seen more and more cases," he said.

"We are now experiencing a record number of sick and injured wildlife and we don't receive any government funding."

AREPH launched a crowd funding campaign last week to help meet the treatment costs of native animals in their care.

"Even a little can go a long way," Mr Merchant said.

"Just $20 or $30 can help to save an animal's life.

"Obviously we need a lot of those small donations to save the number of animals now presenting at our clinic - particularly koalas.

"Koalas are quite difficult animals to treat and their treatments can cost thousands of dollars."

Funds raised through the campaign will be used to purchase items including new reptile enclosures, upgraded bird cages and an updated koala den.

Mr Merchant said urbanisation had caused significant habitat loss locally forcing animals to search for new homes.

He said these animals were more likely to be injured on Macarthur roads, encounter predators or face illness due to stress and lack of access to food and water.

"Animals are being forced to move so we are seeing a lot more injured animals," he said. "The drought also has a bit to do with it.

"In addition many people are more aware of how to help wildlife and are more willing to pick an animal and bring it in for treatment."

Native Wildlife Rescue volunteer Richard 'Woody' Woodman has been caring for one of the clinic's koala patients since March.

He said the clinic's work was vital.

"Without places like this we wouldn't be able to do what we do," he said.

"The vets here work with us so that we can rehabilitate the animals and release them back into the wild."

The three-year-old male koala that Mr Woodman is caring for was diagnosed with ocular chlamydia.

"Having chlamydia for a koala is like having cancer - it can be a death sentence," Mr Woodman said.

"We have to treat it with a heavy duty antibiotic and we are having success with this koala - thanks to the vets here.

"In just three months the progress has been astounding. I haven't seen a case go this well before."

Mr Woodman said the Macarthur region was lucky to have a clinic like AREPH.

He urged people to donate and help the clinic continue to provide care for wild animals.

"Without places like this animals would suffer," he said.

"The vets, the nurses, the whole team are so dedicated to caring for our wildlife."

Mr Merchant agreed with Mr Woodman.

"The team here are passionate about what they do - they truly care about providing all animals with top quality care," he said.

"It doesn't matter if the animal is domesticated or wild, they all deserve treatment and care. We urge people to give us a call if they see an injured or sick animal so we can provide them with the care they need."