Upstate Victoria wildlife carer Kylee Donkers has been involved in ‘very strange rescues’ over the years, but the recovery of an animal from a lake this week was a first.
- A wombat was spotted taking refuge on a stump in Lake Mulwala on Monday morning
- The dramatic rescue was a first for Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter’s Kylee Donkers
- The female wombat is being treated for hypothermia and foot injuries, but is expected to be released into the wild
On Monday morning, the owner and operator of the Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter in Koonoomoo, about 75 kilometers north of Shepparton, received a call from concerned locals who found a wombat stranded in the middle of a lake on the Victoria-NSW border .
Young anglers Jack and Archie Hewat were on a jetski on Lake Mulwala on the Murray River with their grandmother Barbara Hewat when they saw what they thought was a koala on a stump.
Ms Hewat said it was only when they got closer that they realized it was a wombat.
Ms Hewat then called Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter and Ms Donkers headed to the lake to rescue the waterlogged marsupial, which she said was not a natural swimmer.
“Echidnas are actually very good swimmers, [it’s] it is not uncommon to see them moving through waterways,” Ms Donkers said.
“Same for kangaroos and wallabies; even a koala is a reasonable swimmer.”
However, she said wombats don’t fall into the same category.
“If you look at their figure, they’re not made for a big swim,” she said.
“I don’t think the wombat made the choice to go in the water,” she said, adding that how it got there was a mystery.
“I asked her on the trip home how she ended up there, but unfortunately she couldn’t answer me,” Ms Donkers said.
Ms Donkers said it was possible the wombat ended up in the water during recent storms or after being chased off the land by a dog.
A risky rescue
Water rescue posed a few challengers, and Ms Donkers said she ‘wasn’t too keen on tackling [the wombat] of a Jetski”.
Instead, she chose to phone a friend for a favor.
Jack Hocking from Lake Mulwala Sport Fishing was called and brought his boat out to assist in the rescue.
“It was very different from a normal day of fishing on the lake, much more exciting,” Mr Hocking said.
“We get strange things on the lake, but [the wombat] was quite strange,” he said.
“We have lots of hollow trees, sometimes you’ll get snakes, even echidnas will swim and sit in the stumps sometimes”
Ms Donkers said that despite their placid appearance, wombats can be “quite vicious and unpredictable”.
“I’ve done hundreds of rescues and even I was a little nervous at this one,” she said.
“We had a plan in place if the wombat turned around and tried to attack.”
Ms Donkers said it was important for members of the public who have found stranded wildlife to call ‘someone who has the experience and the proper equipment to actually handle these rescues’.
A few days of rest and relaxation
Ms Donkers said the wombat was scheduled for “a few days of rest and relaxation” at the Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter.
Ms Donkers said the animal was so emaciated when it was found that she thought it must have been stuck on the log for several days.
She added that the wombat was also being treated for hypothermia and minor foot injuries.
“If all goes well, she will be released into the wild.”