Plea for koala mittens and joey pouches for bushfire victims

An injured koala at Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary. Source: Facebook

There are calls for donations of koala mittens and joey and possum pouches to help some of the smallest victims of Victoria's surf coast bushfires.

The bushfire that continues to rage on Victoria's surf coast saw at least 160 homes destroyed, but there are also fears for the region's animal population.

With koalas, kangaroos, possums, wallabies, sugar gliders and other native animals in the path of the fire the long-running Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary is preparing to receive an influx of injured animals.

Sanctuary founder and director Tehree Gordon told SBS News the fire was still too dangerous for wildlife rescuers and carers to search for injured animals.

However she said officers from the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) and vets were doing their best to help any wildlife they came across.

"I've been doing bushfires since I was 16-and-a-half and I think this is the first year the department's really had a better understanding of the animals," she said.

She said the department officers and Country Fire Authority volunteers were bringing injured animals from the fireground to vets who triaged the animals before they were moved on to carers.

"Because the fire is not under control and because it is too dangerous we haven't been able to go in," Mrs Gordon said.

"They are wanting us to get in and help them but with the terrible weather tomorrow [Thursday] and Friday they don't want to risk anyone's lives."

So far the sanctuary has received some birds and three koalas, one of which had superficial burns on her face, paws and bottom.

Mrs Gordon said the sanctuary was calling for donations of soft mittens and pouches to help in the treatment of injuries and the care of animals like joeys.

"The mittens save the bandaging and unbandaging [of wounds] she said.

"When they've got an injured hand, they are still wild, so it is a lot less stressful to attend to the injury and then slip on a mitten."

The pouches are used for animals like possums and joeys to allow them to feel safe and comfortable while they are recovering from their injuries, Mrs Gordon said.

"The fire on Christmas day was so fast-moving and so hot and so extreme a lot of animals would not have had a chance to escape," she said.

"Now the fire is slower moving and cooler [so more injured animals will start to emerge]."

The sanctuary is also caring for the pets of people who have lost their homes until they have somewhere to stay.

Mrs Gordon said it meant pet owners who now had nowhere to live had one less thing to worry about.

Mittens and pouches can be made according to the patters on the Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary Facebook page and can be sent to: P/O Box 1079 Barwon Heads 3226 VIC.

Donations to Jirrahlinga Koala and Wildlife Sanctuary can be made here.

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