Urs Walterlin makes one thing clear - he doesn't like shooting animals.
The WIRES volunteer has done his fair share of that in the past few years as one of the few licensed shooters for the wildlife rescue organisation.
"I don't want to kill animals but when you see how they're suffering, particularly after being injured in an accident three or four days earlier, it is an act of mercy," Mr Walterlin said.
"I hate doing it but someone has to. If people were more careful, there wouldn't be a need."
The Goulburn district foreign correspondent is urging motorists to slow down on roads and be more mindful of wildlife and what happens after cars strike them.
Many can survive if not badly hurt but others limp off into bushland and die horrible deaths after being attacked by ants and bugs.
In one instance, a woman alerted the Southern Tablelands WIRES branch to an injured kangaroo on Carrick Road, near Goulburn, that had been lying there with an injured leg for several days.
When Mr Walterlin arrived, he saw there was little hope and euthanized the roo.
"You can't heal broken bones," he said.
Upon checking the pouch he found a joey which was quickly taken to local WIRES volunteer, Kerrie Dunbar. As the species coordinator, she is specially trained in caring for the joeys. From there, the youngster was sent to a specialist carer in Sydney who was able to feed the animal day and night.
Baby wombats are also often found in mothers' pouches and have to be similarly nurtured. Mr Walterlin said it was particularly distressing to find otherwise healthy baby wombats that died from dehydration due to their mother's death on the road.
"These animals were there before us and they have a right to be there," he said.
"It doesn't take much to be careful. You don't have to speed like a lunatic because if you do, the risk of hitting wildlife is high. Even if people drive 5km slower, it lessens the risk. Try to be kind and think of them."
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Mr Walterlin joined WIRES two years ago after seeing too much roadkill. He had always advised the service of injured animals but began to wonder what happened after that.
A year earlier, he had found a joey on his property that had been abandoned by its mother. With the help of WIRES volunteers he learnt how to feed the animal, who he and wife, Christine, christened 'Fritz.' Though roaming freely he became part of the family but after one year became sick and died.
That experience also spurred him to undertake WIRES training, which involved an easy online course and one day of practical experience. Those who wish can pursue specialised courses such as macropod, wombat and bird care, or even safely catching snakes.
Mr Walterlin has done several courses, as well as training to euthanize, or shoot, injured wildlife.
"I slid into this because there was a lack of people to do it," he said.
"It is strictly regulated because they are protected animals. I always advise police in advance that I'll be there."
That's the worst case scenario. The aim is to rescue the animals, have them assessed by a vet, care for them if necessary and release them back into nature.
The service receives 170,000 calls annually, including from interstate. Last financial year it provided rescue advice and assistance for more than 100,000 native animals. It has 28 branches in NSW, of which Southern Tablelands is one.
Mr Walterlin cited World Wide Fund for Nature data that almost three billion animals had been killed or displaced by bushfires.
"Climate change is (also) a major problem and it will only increase. The demand for organisations like WIRES will grow and it will be a real challenge," he said.
"There were millions of dollars in donations (for wildlife care) during the fires and it will be money very well spent."
As for the rewards of being a volunteer, Mr Walterlin says even the smallest sign of appreciation from an animal means the world.
- To report sick, injured or orphaned native animals, call WIRES on 1300 094 737. If you would like to become a vulunteer, visit https://www.wires.org.au/
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