Increase in Wildlife Caught in Drains on the Eastern Shore
by Sarah Aitken
Registered Wildlife Carer Amanda Sparkles, of Howrah, has been rescuing animals from storm water drains over summer, and is demanding councils cover the ends of the drains with grates to stop it happening.
Amanda says the animals – including, commonly, full-sized Bennett’s wallabies, enter the drains in search of water and get stuck. Without a rescue they’d die an awful death and as Amanda points out – if an animal of that size can get in, what about a child? She recently spoke to us about her quest to make our urban areas safer for wildlife and everyone.
How often are you attending to wildlife that have gotten stuck in storm water drains? Between myself and [fellow carer] Teena Hanslow we receive a couple of phone calls a week through summer about wildlife being stuck down drains. These phone calls are mostly from concerned members of the public. Due to more and more new areas being built up, our wildlife are finding it more and more difficult to access water. This causes desperation to cross roads, enter residential streets and back yards. These open ended storm water drains are a death trap for our wildlife. They go in looking for the water, not expecting the couple of metre drop at the end then not being able to get back out. They then are literally trapped. They have most likely suffered injuries and if not removed, they are left there to slowly starve to death.
Once myself or Teena have been contacted in regards to a trapped animal, we do all we can to remove it safely to rehabilitate it to be released back into the wild but unfortunately, it can often result in euthanasia. Our most recent rescues were three full size Bennett’s wallabies and a brushtail possum in a Glebe Hill open ended storm water drain.
Are you always able to get them out? The rescues are difficult, but so far yes. We have to get creative on how to remove them from the water pipes as safely as possible for us and the animal.
What generally happens to them? A lot are euthanised, others are checked over by a vet and are cared for and rehabilitated back into the wild by a registered wildlife rehabilitator like myself or Teena.
What do you think is the solution to this issue? The solution is easy. Grate all open ended storm water drains, and make it law that any new drains built must have the grate over them. Then if a plastic pipe free-standing rain catching wildlife water-feeder could be placed near each one, we could potentially save a lot of our wildlife from dying of thirst or having to get hit by a car or enter places that are dangerous just to get a drink.
What are you doing next? I wrote a post on our local Howrah/ Tranmere Facebook page asking members of the community to please contact me if they notice a non-grated storm water drain pipe in the area, and so far I’ve had six people come forward, each with their own horror stories they have witnessed of animals going in and not coming out. A general concern shared also was if a 15kg male Bennett’s wallaby can find itself stuck down one, a small child very easily can too. My goal is to visit these sites, document them, and present them to the Council in hope of grates being placed over them in a timely fashion and a free standing rain catcher water feeder at each point to support our wildlife with their thirst.
If anybody would like to get in touch with Amanda in regards to a storm water drain that’s not grated please do so on 0415991019.