Soft Release Stories
Warwick & Dianna Bisset belong to Wildlife Rescue South Coast in NSW Australia. We hold our animal rescue rehabilitation and release License thru them. If your interested in careing for wildlife contact your local Wildlife Rescue group. There is generally more than one group operating in any area. If you can not find your group, drop us an email and we will help find it.
It’s been a busy year with 18 Macropods* in care with the last 10 have started their supported soft release in October, we let them out of the enclosure to run free and wild with the wild ones during the day and they return in the evenings for a feed and to be locked in saftley for the night. This will take some months for them all to decide they are feeling confident to be in the wild, with the wild mobs. Were already taking bookings for the next group at only 2kg, but we will take them at 5-6kg. (*Big foot such as kangaroo’s wallabys and wallaroos)
It’s been a pretty busy year so far, with 10 wombats and 16 macropods, removal of 3 huge goanna’s 3 brown snakes and 2 Red belly Black’s. Release of 2 wombats at the remote supported release pen. We have also had the sad death of Joy the 6kg Eastern Grey with a twisted bowel, that broke and was expeled. 2 other Eastern grey joey’s came, but they were so compromised with worms and the damage such a heavy burden did to their Bowel were also not savable. In the wild we understand only 17% of macropods survive to adulthood. So high’s and Lows, were very sad and we do cry many tear’s for those we cannot save.
Milo the eastern Grey kangaroo and Joy’s buddy is doing really well he has bonded nicely with the 6 new Eastern Greys and Sadie making a great little mob that we will start to let out on day release over winter as they get bigger.
March 2016 Cooler days and nights finally and were getting some of our released and in the process of releasing wombats, wandering around the house, singing to each other. We have seen Lilly released last August again, and she has grown so much. Poppy her buddy always pays a visit if we have visitors of an evening so about every 3 weeks. Both doing well. Wiggles has appeared he’s our latest post card boy. He was looking very chewed by Charlie Girl his buddy when he started his release in January but is now looking much better. We think charlie, just chewed his fur obviously a wombat love thing. Then there is the men’s shed mob Gentel Terry, Frankie run run away, and Tankie all doing so well. Tankie came in wild around 5 kg and so has become very wild early, lucky if you see him every other week. So the wombatorums are both busy with comings and goings and their living under waz shed as well as in assorted burrows around the place.
2nd Januay sees Dianna finally catch and relocate a large eastern Brown snake
that’s been seen around the last number of weeks.
Charlotte has been singing to our wombats and taught them this song.
Benny the red neck wallaby gets cateracts and goes blind in just over a week this xmas. We understand it can be heridity and Given his mum from a standing position turned and ran into a large water tank killing herself that is realistic. We are exploring what the options and outcomes are for surgey at the moment. Meantime he’s managing very will following us around for long walks (thongs make a great noise) and knows his small outdoor yard and immediate area already within a few days of going totally blind. In researching this it’s more common than we knew and Macroppds kept in zoo’s etc and tested for genes for blindness and not allowed to mate. We will never allow our wildlife to suffer or be stressed. Benny needs to have enough sight to manage in the wild, (As per our Liscence with NPWS all animals must be releasable) even if it’s just in the immediate area here.
Terry and Frankie started their soft release. Both at around 17 kgs have been making it their daily mission to dig out of their enclosure. Tunneling under and collapsing paving, managing to dig down and under the roller doors burried a meter deep. Refilling efforts with large rocks did not deter. Walks becoming a problem, when they simply just run away to a burrow. So we opened their wombat door so they come and go, living in a variety of burrows around their pen, plus digging new ones. Both seem calmer and happier
December 2015. Another few busy months have flown by. No time for markets, too many animals, and it’s great having helpers to get those extra job done, weeding, picking up poo, cutting grass, trying to snakeproof enclosures, washing milk bottles and bowls, etc etc
We have 2 wombats in the Grandilla soft release pen. 9 wombats in care and 7 macropods.
Chubby and Chester now make 12 wombats soft released by us at a local friends property in 18 months. We have 3 cameras monitoring the pen as well as local dam and burrow so we know whats happening. Its on the end of a long ridge with 2 creeks either side with water even in the last drought. The area is also being walked by the owners to check wombat activity in assessing numbers released, and they appear to be spreading out. Previous farmers hunted out the wombats as many did, so we know that there is plenty of area for them. Releasing can take months, feeding daily for the first 2 weeks then each couple of weeks reducing the feeding to every other day etc, then eventually just checking the camera’s with fresh grass we go and cut for 2 weeks until they dig out and they still have their own safe burrow to retreat to while they check out the area and start their wild Lives.
3 x little wombats at 6 kg June, Kodiak, and Jasper
2 Bigger wombats at around 12 kg Sarah and Tankie
2 Even bigger wombats 17 kg Frankie and Terry
2 in release pen 19kg Wiggles and Charlie Girl.
Little Benny Red neck Wallaby
2 swamp wallabys, Dawn and wilder
2 Eastern Greys Missy and Sadie
2 Wallaroo’s Leggs and Lithgow.
October 2015 It’s been a busy few months here. In August we have had 5 new macropods (Means big foot) in 3 Eastern Grey Kangaroo’s Warra, Sadie, Dannie and a male wallaroo Leggsie and female Lithgow. Winnie the wallaroo is now fully realeased along with Mr Lee in September we see them most evenings still grazing with the wild mob of Eastern grey’s and red necked Wallabies. We have spotted Bob the swampy released last spring on a camera a couple of times, he is distintive with part f his white tip on his tail missing. Over winter we released a couple more wombats from the soft release pen a Grandilla a 4×4 drive down the back. We have had a few week’s away and had Nev & his lovely wife Dawn ‘house sit’ for us. They stayed a month and looked after everyone beautifully.
Abby and Rebel 2 wombats we were minding for just a few months for a carer who was having both knees replaced turned into 7 months have now moved on to eventually be released. We did not have room to keep them, and miss them. We know our limits with the wombats and doing the macropods (about 10 booked in for spring) plus the soft release pen see’s us more than busy.
We have a 4 stage facility with max of 2 wombats in each. When little up to 3kg they are housed in heated baskets then graduate to a small box with time outside to graze, and play. Then we have ‘little school’ 3kg to 8kg infront of the house a fenced area with a burrow , trees , shrubs and a dry veranda to put their large box’s that stay with them into the next stage. ‘middle School’ 9 to 15 kg has 2 shed’s where we put their box’s. One shed has a with a burrow and attached to a fenced wombatorium attached with 2 burrows and if needed can be divided in 2. This is not far from the house so we can hear whats going on. The shed’s can be used for sick adults. Then the final ‘big school’ 15 to 25kg , no box’s here, just a number of burrows. It’s on the hill up behind the house. They all continue their walks untill release, except if they keep deciding to run away, and hide in a burrow. They tend to come back, a bit worse for wear, but given it can take many hours each night seaching for them we reconsider their walk’s!. It’s hard to have the wombats at the right agaes and sizes to progress, there with us 2 years if they come in at about 3 kgs and we soft release a pair each 12 months or so. So far we have only released 4 wombats in the area of the house ( 8 released from the soft release Pen) and we have just Poppy coming back every now and then. So they do move off.
June 2015 We seem to have a full house in the wombat department. 9 in care ranging from 1.6kg little Sarah, terry and frankie at 9kg then charlie and Wiggles at 12 kg then Abby an Rebel at around 15 kg and then lilly at 25kg and poppy at 18 kg the final 2 in the final stages of soft release. Then the last 2 of the macropods Mr Lee the eastern grey kangaroo and winne the female wallaroo also on final stages of soft release. Then we have to sort a large list of wallaroo’s and easten greys to sort how we can acomadate them from 2kg thru to about 9kg coming when Winnie and Mr Lee finally stop returning for the night.
Latest Arrivals are Terry and Frankie both around 9kg, neither have met before and let their thoughts be known. Wombats do not have particularly good eyesight and when they do wander close to the dividing fence, it’s lots of screaming at each other and bolt to their box or burrow! It will take a few weeks and they will be sleeping in the same box together, giving each other company and support. We will need to spend less time with them so giving them a chance to become less humanised and really wild.
December 2014 Busy again, when is it not! The month of storms. 3 nights of hail, one thunder and lightening that was very slow moving so we recorded 4 strikes here, setting fire to a pine tree trunk in the pouring rain, and lighting up our fencing very nicely!
So we have put a suspended hail/ sun net over the palace shed to reduce noise, even though roof is insulated!
Just got the latest 4 additions to our macropod mob 2 female wallaroo’s Winny & Cracker and 2 eastern Greys Lee (male) and Ginnie all about 9kg. so feed time with 6 hungry mouths is interesting. 2 bottles while they settle then down to one while starting the ‘day release programe’ where we let them put mornings into the wild wallaby & roo mobs and they return themselves, and over time not returning as they become wild.
We have had 3 new wombats down to the release pen (november misses in 2015 wombat calender) and their release is underway opening the gates last night! We also released Miss July ‘sunshine’ or sunny for short back in sept.
Lily and Poppy are getting big!But that’s what happens we guess we love them so and will be sad to be soft releasing them but happy to see them wild.
November 2014 Again a busy month, Wombats, Poppy and Lilly in the wombatorium are growing fast, they love their evening walk, eating grass, exploring wombat burrow’s and having a cuddle. A hugely relaxing end to the day, watching the sun set with these two. Got to be careful, as Lilly keeps sneaking off to explore other wombat burrow’s and she never comes when first called, impossible to find in the dark, so back in he wombatorium just on dark.
Missy and Mysetry are going well, although we haven’t seen her out of the pouch yet.
We have put in an electric fence around the macropod pen and palace, I keep ‘ testing’ it as it’s head height, but I’m slowly learning. It’s to keep dogs, goanna’s and fox’s from climbing over.
We had some Russian neibours bring a Russian film crew around, it was a hoot we are about one third thru, and no we don’t speak Russian it’s dubbed, worth a look to see our beautiful area and a laugh. http://www.rtvi.com/video/20517
We have had lots of roadkill around, and it’s doubly sad when there’s a dead joey as well.
We’d like to thank the Roseville schoolbook club again, and in the coming days there will be something special arrive in the mail at school!
Wiggles, get’s his milk all over him and us when we feed him, he gets the wiggles and it’s a milk shower.
Dr Peggy has released an activity book and a book on her vast collection of Echidna stuff. You can order the books directly from her at [email protected] Lots of good activity’s for a school!
September / October 2014: Finishes a very busy month with 3 wallaroo’s, Ella , Annie & Stunner now in care and 4 wombats, Lilly, Poppy, Charlie and Wiggles. Jack wombat at 180gms came for just a week and an attempt to save Fred an adult wombat hit by a car took a few days of intensive care and tiny Bruce wombat at just 85 gms unfortunately hurt internally when mum was killed despite round the clock care we were not able to save. We soft released 2 additional wombats from the portable release pen Sunshine & Midnight doing the 20m drive each way daily for 10 days and now weekly and 1 swamp wallaby Bob finally not coming back at all and our first 2 red neck wallabys Ned & Rusty released as well with Ned sadly dying after eating something toxic out in the wild. We have seen Missy soft released with Ryan last spring return with the mob and now with a little Joey on board whom we call ‘mystery’ finishes the month on a very good note. And how can we forget Wilber wombat released earlier this year around most night’s and now hanging around with ‘charcoal’ a wild dark wombat, probably female ;-).
Welcome Stunner and Ella. Both wallaroo’s arrived friday 24th October. The start of a little wallaroo group that we will release together. Ella is very shy and a big sister now for little annie and stunner is just that!.
Ella, shy at first but we believe she bites, when’ she’s made friends.. can’t wait biting wallaroo’s & wombats!
Warwick found little Jack on the way home from a friends funeral. at 180gms he was a challenge to get feeding. Warwick did a great job and jack was doing really well., we had him about a week so morning rounds were taking us 3 hours. The timing wasnt right for us to keep jack as our wombatorium is full with lilly and Poppy and there is a bit of overlap with Charlie and wiggles, and Jack would have no where to live here, so we have handed him to another carer who will buddy him up and care for him, and just maybe he will come back to our portable release pen.
Welcome Wiggles the wombat: Octobr 13thWiggles the wombat has come to buddy up charlie and start their journey with us to final release in about 2 years. Charlie is at the moment Dinsdale ( after the Monty Python Pirana brothers) she has taken to dive bombing wiggles with mouth open snapping , snapping and trying to bite, like a pirana and will take a nip whenever she can. She loves nipping us, blankets everything, always has. Needless to say charlie will get used to wiggles and eventually like Poppy and Lilly be in-seperable and bite less we hope!
October 17th we lose Ned: Such sad new’s Ned the red neck wallaby has died , he was just about fully soft released still coming back most nights , but more and more staying out all night, We have had him 12 months, raising him from a Pinkie at only 900gms. Has been a bit quite a few days, but still eating and hopping around, unwilling to go out, last night he looked ill sitting hunched over, this morning worse, despite our best efforts he died. We don’t as yet know why he suddenly died, have had an autopsie and watched this, only clue his blood was not clotting properly, and no not a snake bite. We are sending blood to a lab checking for possible tick borne blood parasites. Waz is digging his hole now. ;-( Stastic’s are that in the wild apparently only 17% of joeys survive. We have a new buddy for charlie wombats and some wallaroo’s coming next week, but we are trying to learn from all outcomes here. Blood test’s reveal Ned had eaten something toxic to his liver, we don’t know what. Normally they don’t eat odd thing’s and as there is great browse and lots of grass around we might never know what it was. Very sad.
September 27th 2014- Welcome Charlotte wombat or as we know her Charlie for short. We picked up Charlie of the road about 5km from Rocklily, mum had just been run over sadly.
She’s full of personality, bites a lot will not drink, shreds her bottle teats and wiggles and squirms and we are falling in love with her rather quickly. Were not getting alot done in trying to settle her in to a routine, but that’s wombats for you.
Charlie weighs 2.25 kg’s and is about 7 months old. It’s about now he’s be taking her first steps outside mum’s pouch and nibbling on grass. We try and get her to do the same as if she were with mum. Although she’s as yet not keen on her bottle and prefers to bit us instead!
Aug 16th 2014 – Bruce Wombat Bruce was a tiny 84g, about the size of a squash ball or chook egg. Warwick came across his mum who had just been hit by a car late Friday night. The driver didn’t know that wombats have pouches with joeys in them.
Little Bruce was feeding well, but unfortunately he died after 4 days. The bruising had been coming up on him in the few days before, on the back of the head, jaw, hip and lower spine. I could see he had a tummy full of milk so he must have died after his 10 am feed. I thought things were not quite right through the night, so am not really surprised; mum was hit side on and rolled under front of car, so Warwick was surprised he was as okay as he initially looked.
Least I gave him a go and learnt from that. The smallest wombat I know someone has raised is 60g and they are about 20kg when released!
June 2014: Bob’s released now. He’s a wild swampy, enjoying himself. He’s not been back in the evenings after day release for 10 days! We shut the little ones in the soft release pen & palace called ‘the resort’ for the night, part of the soft release process; sometimes they stay out a night or two and come back, but eventually they stop coming back altogether as Bob has done. We have seen Bob on two mornings and he scored a bottle, as it is getting cold, but it’s all up to him now. My last photo was Bob attempting to ringbark the newly planted shade tree we’d just planted next to the palace.
How much fun can you have … playing with my wombats… what characters!
Our latest arrival is Rusty the red-necked wallaby, just about soft release size, but way too tame. He’s in lovely condition, so he’s going to learn to be wild with us and the other wallabies here. Will keep him in the soft release with Ned the other red neck for a few days, to bond, they they can both go out on day release! Rusty’s very soft and loves a pat, but not too much of that now, we’ve got to slowly wild him up! Our only problem is that Ned & Rusty look just like two other wild red necks in the group of about 10 that live around the house area & bush! I walked up to one calling “Hello Rusty, time for bottle” and he bolted! Rusty is very funny, he’s discovered the stinging nettle, but keeps hopping through it, then jumps around till it settles down—not long at least!
Just what is ‘soft release’ or ‘hard release’?
Hard release is where you basically just dump/leave the rehabilitated or hand-raised animal in the bush and cross your fingers. :-/
Soft release is from a pen (wombatorium for wombats also under construction march 2014) or macropod yard, where you can over a period of time take the wombat or roo/wallaby on walks, familarising them with the area and letting them meet and learn from the locals and start to become part of the mob. You can then leave them out in the daytime and eventually not shut the gate at all. For wombats there is an in-between stage, as many are raised on smaller properties where they cannot be released—or, for example, we won’t want to be releasing everything we raise from the same wombatorium near the house. It’s a portable enclosure with a protected burrow where they stay for about 10 days, note it’s got a mesh side so they can see what’s happening and locals can peer in. They are fed daily and either dig out before the 10 days or leave when the gate is opened and they can come and go, still being support fed. This at least gives them a chance to met the locals and find their own burrow while still having the pen and burrow to retreat to. We put a camera on this enclosure so we can monitor what’s happening.
Portable wombat release pen installed at ‘Grandillia’ down the valley from us. As you can see it’s made from pool fencing panels with star posts, and they are set on wire reinforcing to prevent wombats digging out too quickly. A burrow is made with a roof to prevent it filling with rain and we added another small roof over where we will be putting daily feed for the 10 days or so the rehabilitated wombat will be in the pen. April saw our first release from the pen, and we were able to see that he’s been round the nearby weekender for a week or 2 later . We have also been working our way down the 1.5km ridge finding active burrows and fixing camera’s to check who’s there and make sure there is no mange about.
We have released 3 wombats to date (July) and have found 2 new burrows and a re-used older burrow, abut 1km along a north facing ridge. We have also been getting night shots of wombats on the ridge line where there were no signs of wombats before.
Joey palace is the new joey pen & yard we are just trying to finish off (March 2014). Because of our location, we have wild dingoes from the park from time to time, a wedgetail eagle nest on our hill and powerful owls as well as large goannas around. So little macropod joeys need a shed and fully secure night pen while they are still small and bite sized and easily carried away by any of the various predators. The pen is attached to the main macropod release enclosure with a gate so they have plenty of space during the day till they are big enough to be let out daily. Eventually gates are left open and the joeys ‘soft release’ themselves. Ryan & Missy did this and it’s great to see them as part of the wild mob that lives around the house.
Until the joey palace is finished we have a night pen with straw inside, the house and we have fenced our veranda and yard for the joeys to hop around in while the pens are being built. This will still be used for small joeys.
The photo shows Ned checking out his new shed & yard.
Rocklily dates back to the 1890s. It was a large property covering a few thousand acres, subdivided into around 12 bush blocks in the early 50s and now bordering the SW corner of the Blue Mountains National Park and within the locked gate area of the Sydney water catchment. Nearly all block owners are welcoming of wildlife and release on their blocks. Sheep were run by the thousands in the day, but now it’s pretty well all reverted to bush, with huts dotted around and along a private right of way.
Wilber some months on and doing really well.
Wilber Wombat is living in a few different burrows now, moving around and not getting beaten up by other male wombats, thankfully. We see him some evenings wandering around eating the grass, unconcerned by the wild roos and wallabies nearby. It’s so good to see animals living freely in the wild. We have released a few wombats and roos now and are so rewarded when we can catch sight of one, wild and doing what they should be doing.
March 2014 Update on Wilber. Wilber has settled in nicely, we spot him grazing in the paddocks with the various other wildlife and living in his burrow. He has spent the odd night in other burrows and had a bit of a dig here and there. He wandered into Warwick’s shed the other night on dusk, and was easily chased out. It’s great he avoids us and runs and hides at first sighting, although I think as he has hung around where we released him, if he gets into trouble we will see and be able to help him. Tracy and Jerry have done a great job raising him, he’s still got a lot of wildness, which will help him in the future living with a truly wild population here. We have added a ‘roof’ to his burrow to avoid flooding—normally wombats move around burrows over time for extra winter sun, avoiding flooding, and whatever, but as yet Wilber feels safe in the one burrow so we make it as comfy as possible while he gets used to being wild. There is a wombat gate in the fenceline just behind his burrow, and we have opened this to teach him that this is how he can come and go from the macropod paddock.
Feb 14th 2014 Wilber wombat arrives. Wilber has been hand-raised, and being a gentle soul loves his mum and dad so much he almost beats their car back home from his release pen. Unfortunately he’s not much on road rules and has had a near miss with a truck—with great dedication Jerry and Tracy pulled him through. Now it’s time to try again to release him into the wild. We have taken on the task of wilding him up and put him in the 1,500 sqm macropod enclosure. There is a wombat burrow and 4 wombat gates, and plenty of grass despite the drought. It was very sad for Tracy and Jerry but they could see when we opened his box he dove straight into the burrow. At dusk we checked on him, and he took off straight away, again straight for his burrow.
Feb 2014 Bob & Ned growing daily and interacting with the locals!
Feb 2014 Predator proof Joey night pen and shed.
To date we have released a number of adult kangaroos needing relocation, holding them in the 1,500 sqm pen for a week or so then opening the gates. Ryan & Missy came to be soft-released at 9kg, too big for the resident goannas, wedge-tailed eagles, powerful owls, dingoes from the park or foxes to think too closely about as dinner.
Now raising our first little wallabies we need a fully enclosed (mesh roof) yard with a shed inside. We have also to upgrade our big soft release yard with smaller wire up to the full height. Plus shadecloth around perimeter so little feet when bounding around don’t get caught & broken, often a death sentence for them.
We have cut into the slope a new shed site and yard with access. Our shed, 4m back wall, 5m front and 2m high and deep, will give a snug and secure place. Waz & Drew (our visiting son), have milled up some local fallen timber and built the frame, roofed it and poured a concrete floor. They thought it would only take about 12 concrete mixer loads , but it ended up 20 and all this while temps were in the high 30s—they are still smiling!
Jan 2014 Kate & Lucy. January turned into a really sad month for us here, we lost both our little wombats. There are lots of downs to wildlife care. We are very upset but would like to share the good with the sad of wildlife care.
Our little wombats Lucy & Kate stopped pooing. Wombats can go for a couple of weeks without a poo, but at 10 days we got worried. A few drops of oil in the milk and away we went again, but again 2 weeks later things stopped again. They both had issues with some of their organs (lungs in Kate’s case, spleen and kidneys in Lucy’s) and therefore were more susceptible to illness. They caught/had (we don’t know when or how) a common but nasty bacteria that affected the growth of the nerves in the bowel, and part of their bowel stopped working. The first and obvious symptom of this was no poo and “bloat” from a gas buildup with fermenting milk. Both were still on milk, and getting into each others’ bags and, as wombats do, eating their poo. The wonderful Dr Howard and Glenda tried very hard to save them, battling for weeks with untiring dedication but it was not to be. When we get little ones into care, even the orphaning event when mum is killed adds stress to them, and getting cold and possibly injured just adds to the tally against them surviving. We can only take consolation that it’s been a learning experience for all and hopefully help with other little ones. We feel it’s important to be honest about the good and the sad things, it helps us all learn. This photo of Kate was taken on Xmas day.
Dec 2013 Wombatorium: This is a place to keep our wombats and is used as soft release pen. Stage one. A 1m deep trench is dug in an oval and we have collected 18 secondhand roller doors, which will be unrolled, dropped on their sides into the trench and bolted together. We will put in a burrow with a shelter and a wombat flap and door to take the wombats on walks. We will keep you updated. We have also installed a smaller wombatorium in a neighbour’s place so we can soft release adult (20kg) wombats now, just waiting for the hot spell to break. And yes the wombats will have a great view over to where our wedge-tailed eagles nest!
December 2013 Time moves on and our little ones are growing daily.