Kangaroos often come in for a bad rap, but as the years go by, their numbers have fallen and in some areas they have been wiped out.
Annually, Wildcare deals with thousands of calls for help, around half of which relate to kangaroos. In the 18 months to December 2019, there were 3460 calls for kangaroos. Many of these were for kangaroos involved in motor vehicle accidents (1918), but a substantial number (233) were for kangaroos found caught in wire fences.
'Fence hangers' are kangaroos that have not seen, or misjudged, the wire strands of a fence and have become caught by one or both legs. We used to think that these animals should be euthanised, because of the difficulty in extracting the animal.
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However, Wildcare has built up the capability to safely extract and rescue these animals using experienced volunteers, devices to lever wires apart, as well as treatments to calm the animal and then provide first aid. Members of the public are advised not to attempt to remove a fence hanger themselves, it would be too dangerous without the knowledge of an animal's behaviour and how to handle it - rather, stand back to prevent further distress and contact Wildcare for advice.
Fence injuries can range from none, with animals released immediately, to severe cuts or wrenched and broken legs. If the animal is caught for too long, it will become dehydrated and malnourished. A small kangaroo held off the ground by both legs is better off than a large animal held by one leg. In the latter situation, the kangaroo may well break its leg or dislocate a hip in its attempt to free itself.
It is not uncommon to come across joeys caught up in ring lock fencing. The mother hops over and the youngster attempts to squeeze through at the bottom. In these incidents it may be necessary to snip the wire (to be repaired later) to release the animal. Again, please call Wildcare for help and avoid causing it more distress.
If a kangaroo is injured in fencing it can often be brought into care, rather than letting it go with an injury that could impede its mobility and possibly become infected. In the 18 months to the end of 2019, over a third (39 per cent) of fence hangers were brought into care.
Barbed wire is a danger to both stock animals and native wildlife. A fence hanger caught up in barbed wire will obviously have more severe injuries. Barbed wire also injures and captures birds and bats. Many landowners are removing barbed wire and choosing to use other fence designs to contain stock animals.
If you need help with wildlife issues, please call Wildcare 62991966.