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Let’s not rubbish our wildlife

All sorts of rubbish left behind, or left lying about the yard and not considered harmful, can and does injure wildlife and other animals. How we responsibly dispose of rubbish can help prevent severe injuries and death to inquisitive or hungry critters.
WIRES, unfortunately, receives a large number of calls to rescue birds injured by, or tangled in, fishing line. Rather sad really, considering it is a preventable injury, which occurs generally from neglect. If you do go fishing, please be alert and pick up any discarded line you may see lying about and dispose of it responsibly.

It is not just along the coast that this sort of injury happens either; recently WIRES rescued a local Tawny frogmouth well away from the coast, with a rusted fishing hook embedded in its leg. Thankfully, after minor surgery to remove hook and 9 days in rehab, WIRES carer Alicia was able to release this bird back into the wild, where it had come from.

Almost all of us use plastic milk or cordial bottles, these all have a round plastic seal around the top, and how we dispose of this small ring can be the difference between life and tragic death for unwitting wildlife. Before disposal, cut it open with scissors, so it no longer poses a threat to wildlife, as seen here in photo. This Magpie was lucky, it was found before starving to death, many do not fare so well, and they succumb silently, in agony and out of sight.

Drink cans are also deadly traps, when thoughtlessly discarded, snakes are one of many species that can become trapped while exploring the inside of the can. If a snake slithers its head through the opening, it may be unable to get it back out, as its scales do not bend backwards and can keep it pinned at the neck.

Plastic bags, the bane of modern society, are seen along almost every roadside; many of these end up in our waterways entangling turtles and platypus or wash out to sea causing untold damage to many aquatic creatures and slow death to marine mammals by compromising them in many ways.

Let us not forget the dreaded orchard netting, often seen as discarded piles about yards or sheds, when no longer needed, or loosely draped over fruit trees and veggie gardens, to protect plants. Many creatures get tangled up in the netting, suffering constriction, dehydration and starvation, it’s not pleasant to find an animal in this condition.we ask everyone to be diligent about the responsible removal of unused or unnecessary netting from around their property, and please urge others to do likewise.


Brown snake seen here trapped in discarded orchard netting.

It received extensive veterinary treatment, and after time in care was successfully released.

Glass from empty bottles, left behind and broken by time, can cut the feet or mouths of unsuspecting wildlife, when running or grazing. Unfortunately, they cannot go to the doctor for stitching, bandaging and antibiotics, so many suffer infections that can be fatal, or are crippled, inhibiting their ability to survive.
Sounds depressing? It need not be, if we only spare a thought for the other creatures we share this environment with, by cleaning up after ourselves, or after others less responsible.



Going for a swim on a hot day turned out quite different than expected for Jamil, this bird’s rescuer.
A goshawk was snagged on a fishing lure approximately 12 metres above the deep swimming hole at Rosebank where Jamil was about to have  his swim. Rather than dive into the cool water he called WIRES.

Follow Jamils eyes to see the bird hanging high above the water.

In the WIRES rescuers words:

To reach the site we walked a few hundred metres downstream carrying the rescue gear, at times wading waist deep with car keys and phone high and dry on my head in my cap.
On arrival we looked at all options to rescue. Very tricky! There was no way to reach the branch to cut it - bar felling the entire tree.
Jamil who called the rescue in is standing on top of a 2 metrer step ladder which he managed to secure on the pond floor in the picture. We tied two, yes 2 extendable poles together and tied a knife on top, and were ready with a snake bag to catch the bird before it hit the water.

After many failed attempts and exhaustive efforts, Jamil finally managed to jag the line and the hawk landed close to the opposite bank. He quickly swam to its aid and floated back to my side of the creek with the bird cupped in both hands. We lost the snake bag in the creek.

It truly was an amazing rescue. There is no way I could have done what Jamil did.

The bird had a fishing lure / hook deeply embedded in its wing so was taken to WIRES raptor specialist where we cut the hook and our raptor lady attended to his creature needs.

In the words of the bird’s carer:
I took him to Casino Vet Clinic the bird was gassed whilst a piece of hook that was embedded in the wing near the wrist joint was  carefully removed.

There is significant bruising indicating that the poor bird had been hanging and struggling for some time. He was also still very dehydrated so he was given subcutaneous fluids while still under the anaesthetic.

Time will tell whether he has suffered nerve or tendon damage and the vet will x-ray in a few days when he has recovered. He is on pain medication and antibiotics.

Examination at Casino vet clinic
Well and truly under anaesthetic whilst lure is being removed

The offending lure removed from the hawks wing.

Please take all fishing gear with you when you leave.

Feeling much better day by day. Thank you Jamil

This magnificent bird was released two week later back at Rosebank.

Pictures below taken just before release.




From a WIRES member:

Had a magical WIRES moment yesterday. I was called out to pick up a baby ‘noisy miner’ bird that had fallen from it’s nest and apparently had fishing wire hanging from it’s mouth. There it was, dazed, lonely & confused,... nest on the ground, no sign of mum or dad, but also no fishing wire?!

I scooped it up took it to the vets and got the all clear, no fishing wire:) Baby ‘Noisy miner’ was also started to live up to his name! So back to the tree we went, noisy all the way! On arrival there though I heard some other “TWeeT TWeT TWeeTs” from the bottom of another tree, 2 more babies and the mum & dad still feeding them!

I had made a nest basket out of ‘gutter guard’ and put the old nest inside, tied it back up in the tree, popped them all in and a few minutes later mum, dad & babies all reunited in a nice secure nest in the tree!! Such a nice feeling! Thank you Vitality Vets & thank you WIRES!







Diana stepped out her front door to see a juvenile magpie in distress hanging 15 meters high in a tree across the road, Diana knew this bird as it's parents and two siblings are regulars to the bird bath in her garden.

Diana had been monitoring this bird for some time knowing that it had string caught on its feet; the two feet tied together, but had been unable to contain it to relieve it of its plight.
Now the bird had snagged itself high in the tree top and it's parents were still attending to its needs, feeding and reassuring it as best they could.

Diane called WIRES.

Having arranged for an arborist to assist, a WIRES volunteer arrived on the scene.

While waiting for help to arrive a neighbour returned home to find some commotion on his doorstep. Fortunately for the magpie Craig was an arborist.
Assessing the situation, Craig sprang into action.
Using equipment from the WIRES volunteers  car, a saw was taped to a rescue pole, rope to secure the branch and minutes later the hanging bird was delivered into the hands of the WIRES volunteer.





Remarkably the juvenile magpie had not sustained any injury and following a brief operation to remove the string and the bird given rehydration fluid it was released to a pair of very anxious parents.




WIRES unfortunately receive a number of calls regarding birds injured by being tangled in fishing line. This is rather sad, considering it is a preventable injury. If you do go fishing, please be responsible and pick up discarded line from the beach.

This Tawny frogmouth had a rusty fishing hook embedded in its leg. WIRES carer Alicia was fortunately able to save this bird, seen here just before having the hook removed from its leg.

Yet another victim of discarded fishing line. This Magpie did not fare as well as the Tawny Frogmouth, both of its legs were tied together and broken due to discarded fishing line.







A discarded fishing net is a death trap for native animals. This Coastal Carpet python was lucky to be discovered struggling trying to get free of a discarded fishing net, unfortunately the more it struggled the worse the entanglement became.
WIRES snake handler was called and the snake was able to be released straight away after being cut free. Please ensure you take any discarded nets and fishing gear with you when your fishing trip is over, leaving rubbish behind can cause severe damage.
This python is 2.4 meters in length and now safely back in his territory.





When Nathan of Alstonville noticed a young magpie suspended from a branch high in a tree hanging and flapping in distress with string around its leg he immediately called WIRES for help.


WIRES carer Leoni responded to the call and after seeing the situation called Alstonville Fire brigade for assistance.


As always the fire brigade was extremely helpful, they put up a long ladder, cut the branch and lowered the young magpie slowly to the ground.

Whilst the young one was up in the tree still trapped by the string, the mother magpie flew up and tried to feed the chick whilst Brett the fireman was climbing up the ladder, it was as if she was trying to calm the chick down.


WIRES would like to thank the Alstonville fire brigade for their help, it is very much appreciated, and also Nathan for calling us when seeing the little fledgling in distress, as a result this little bird will only require a few days care before being returned to his family as no bones were broken . The situation would have been much worse had the bird been there for extended time..





Discarded fruit netting can be deadly for many native animals including snakes.






WIRES Northern Rivers received a call from a member of the public that two snakes were caught in netting.

Getting snakes out of this situation takes more than one reptile handler as the job can be dangerous to say the least and in this case it most certainly was a situation that would take some very careful handling.


WIRES trained reptile handlers Helen and Melanie went out and as you can see by the images it was a delicate operation to free the snakes, one an Eastern Brown snake the other a Red-Bellied Black snake.

Both snakes were severely injured in particular the Eastern Brown which had most likely been trapped for extended time as it was dehydrated and had cuts to its body where it had struggled to free itself.

Both snakes are currently in care. Please ensure that netting is disposed of in a manner that will not injure our wildlife.




He was found in a compost bin, the lid was put back on after having been accidentally left off overnight.

No one knew he was inside. ...

He was in there all day. ...

He was a Mountain Brushtail possum just looking for a meal, it became his last.

He died shortly after being found.

Please check before putting lids back on bins as a possum such as this may be sheltering inside.




Squirrel Glider Rescue

Many native animals drown in cattle water troughs. They will try to access the water but if they fall in they can not get back out..

A simple solution to this is to put in a stick or hang a rope from the edge of the trough so that any animal that fall in can climb back out.

This juvenile female Squirrel Glider was found on the edge of a cattle water trough on a property at Leycester, near Lismore. Her mother had drowned in the trough. The young one was bedraggled and hungry however is now doing well in care.

Squirrel Gliders are officially listed as Threatened Species.



Snakes are not in a position to withdraw once caught in things like wire fencing. They will become trapped as in this case where a Yellow faced Whip snake was lucky to be spotted just after becoming trapped. It was rescued by WIRES snake handler Rick, and released unharmed.

Had this snake been trapped for prolonged time, things may not have turned out so well for the snake, so please call immediately should you find a snake in distress.



Updated March 2021  

Webmaster: Susanne Ulyatt

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