Wombat found in middle of Mulwala Lake on Victoria-NSW border a first for wildlife rescuer

Wombat found in middle of Mulwala Lake on Victoria-NSW border a first for wildlife rescuer

Kylee Donkers, animal keeper from north Victoria, has been involved in some “very odd rescues” over the years, but an animal rescue on a lake this week was a first.

Key points: A wombat was spotted on a tree 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 wounds on her feet but is expected to be released back into the wild

On Monday morning, the owner-operator of the Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter in Koonoomoo, about 75km north of Shepparton, received a call from concerned locals who had found a wombat stranded in the middle of a lake on the Victoria-NSW border.

Young fishermen Jack and Archie Hewat were out on a jet ski on Lake Mulwala on the Murray River with their grandmother, Barbara Hewat, when they saw what they thought was a koala perched on a tree 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 made her way to the lake to rescue the sodden marsupial, which she said was not a natural swimmer.

Spacebar to play or pause, M to mute, left and right arrows to search, up and down arrows for volume. Watch Duration: 1 minute 36 seconds 1 minute 36 seconds Wombat found stranded on a tree stump in the middle of the lake, a first for a local wildlife rescuer (included : Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter)

“Echidna are actually very good swimmers, [it’s] it’s not uncommon for them to move through waterways,” Ms Donkers said.

“The same goes for kangaroos and wallabies; even a koala is a reasonable swimmer.”

However, she said wombats didn’t fall into the same category.

“If you look at their body shape, they’re not made for extensive swimming,” she said.

Kylee Donkers says the wombat is recovering after being found emaciated on the tree stump. (Provided: Dutch Thunder Animal Shelter)

“I don’t think the wombat made the decision to go into the water,” she said, adding that how it got there is a mystery.

“I asked her on the way 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 shore by a dog.

A risky rescue

The water rescue presented some challengers and Ms Donkers said she was “not particularly keen to tackle it [the wombat] from a jet ski”.

Instead, she decided to call a friend for a favor.

Jack Hocking from Lake Mulwala Sport Fishing got the call and took his boat out to help with the rescue.

“It was very different than a normal day’s fishing on the lake, much more exciting,” said Mr Hocking.

“We get some weird things popping up on the lake, though [the wombat] was pretty weird,” he said.

“We have a lot of hollow trees, sometimes there are snakes, even echidnas swim out and sometimes sit in the stumps.”

If the community hadn’t helped, it could have been a very different rescue, Kylee Donkers said. (Provided: Dutch Thunder Wildlife Shelter)

Ms Donkers said despite their calm appearance, wombats can be “quite vicious and unpredictable”.

“I’ve done hundreds of rescues, and even I was a little nervous about this one,” she said.

“We had a plan in place in case the wombat turned and tried to attack.”

Ms Donkers said it was important that members of the public who found stranded wildlife “call someone who has the experience and the right equipment to actually deal with these rescue operations”.

A few days of rest and relaxation

Ms Donkers said the wombat is set 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 believed it must have been stranded on the log for several days.

She said the wombat is also being treated for hypothermia and minor wounds on its feet.

“If all goes well, she will be released back into the wild.”

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