Kanimbla Valley resident Anna Culliton is one of the many Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) carers who are doing their part to help wombats who are dying of mange.
Mange is is a type of skin disease caused by parasitic mites that dig into and through the skin, causing intense itching from an allergic reaction to the mite's faeces. Crusting on the eyes can quickly become infected. Hair loss and crusting frequently appear and secondary skin infection is also common.
Ms Culliton moved to the Kanimbla Valley 23 years ago and said at that time there were no wombats around during the day.
"I think the first time I saw a wombat with mange was about four years ago, and it was on Kanimbla Drive... At that stage I thought it would be treatable but it wasn't, it was too far gone," she said.
About four years ago Ms Culliton started to help wombats with mange with her neighbour Jill Bell, heading out on 'Wombat Wednesday' to do treatments at the burrows.
The pair would set up night vision cameras on the burrows of wombats to check which wombats were suffering from the disease.
"We currently have six cameras set up to see who is healthy and who isn't," she said.
Cydectin, which is a cattle dip, is known to be an easy and accessible treatment for the mange, but tends to get quite expensive.
To treat the wombats, carers find the burrow and make a flap with an ice cream container lid. The flaps have a jar lid hot glued to them to hold the Cydectin so when wombats enter the lid tips and pours the treatment onto their skin.
"You have to be dedicated time wise because each flap needs to get a weekly dose for around eight weeks and then once a month," she said.
Ms Culliton said it was sometimes tricky to pinpoint where wombats had travelled from, and it was near impossible to treat a wombat if you couldn't find its burrow.
"We have had good success stories, and know that this treatment does work and to see it with your own eyes is incredible," she said.
"I can die happy knowing I've saved some wombats."
According to Ms Culliton the wombats are likely to found near the side of the road because their eye sight deteriorates.
"Their insides also deteriorate so they get hungry and very thirsty so they might be near a dam, creek or come close to your home," she said.
The wombats also suffer fur loss all over their bodies and are left with a mohawk because it's the only part of their bodies they cannot reach to scratch.
The mite can last for several weeks in the warm wombat burrows because the environment is 'perfect' for it to thrive.
"Sometimes it can be hard to tell because wombats are also very territorial and sometimes get into wombat fights," she said.
Ms Culliton joined WIRES in 2018 and has been a part of the wombats in care program for some time.
"It is so lovely to have marsupials in my care, and lovely to save them individually but I want to know they will be safe when I release them back into the wild," she said.
Ms Culliton said she would like to see programs educating students and residents about mange and what they could do to help.
"Funding from local government would also help because the treatment can be quite expensive," she said.
Ms Culliton said that reproduction for wombats was quite slow as they tended to live for 18 to 20 years and only had one baby at a time. In a life time they may only have four or five offspring.
"Between mange, culling, road side accidents and loss of habitat to roads, the wombat population is having a hard time at the moment," she said.
Ms Culliton said if you did spot a wombat with mange, contact WIRES as soon as possible.
WIRES campaigns manager Kristie Newton said that mange had become prevalent in NSW and local populations of wombats were going extinct.
"Nearly one in three wombats have the disease and we found we were getting more and more calls about it, but the general population had no awareness of the disease," she said.
"We are trying to teach more WIRES carers how to treat mange and to provide them with equipment and to do more public education."
Ms Newton said that if you see a wombat out in the day time to check for mange because they are nocturnal and shouldn't be out in the daylight.
"It is important to stop it in its tracks and to get onto it as soon as possible because the disease can be passed from wombat to wombat, and we want to prevent as many wombats from contracting it as possible,"
"If we get in earlier there is a better chance at survival," she said.
With the aim of treating as many wombats as possible WIRES wants to be able to provide kits to carers with all the treatment they need.
"Treatment is very expensive so we have had to start fundraising to get all the equipment we need," she said.
If you would like to donate to the cause you can do so here.
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