ISLAND BIRDS AND WILDLIFE IN THE HANDS OF REGISTERED CARERS A Senior Wildlife/ Bird Carer Kerri Lawler-Rotkirch talks about her journey to becoming a Registered Carer and what you should know if you ever want to become one. Kerri's wildlife and animal related work history includes the setting up and running of rural veterinary clinics, which also entailed the recruitment and training of rural veterinary nurses. “We had many work experience students come through our clinics who went on to become qualified vets and vet nurses.” Amid the veterinary side of things, Kerri was founder of the Mid North Coast RSPCA, was an Honorary Inspector, wrote three children's books all inspired by life on the farm, and contributed to native threatened species research projects. "It seemed injured and orphaned birds and animals followed me everywhere" Kerri lives with her husband Dr Carl, on a large, 1 + acre block on Macleay Island where big old native trees and rustic gardens provide the perfect setting for a bird sanctuary. Currently, the Macleay Island's registered wildlife team consists of Kerri, Michelle, Steve and Hilton who all work in a voluntary capacity. Each carer has over 20 years experience and they all built and developed their own sanctuary facilities at their own homes. Kerri's speciality is Curlews, and most of the smaller meat eaters including magpies, butcher birds and kookaburras. Michelle, alongside her daughter Calista, owns and operates Macleay Pets Plus and specialises in the care of cockatoos, galahs, lorikeets and all things psittacine. Steve has extensive experience with raptors and owls and has a special interest in the care of reptiles. Hilton’s long-term speciality is caring for bandicoots and bats. There is often up to eight birds per week, presenting with injuries. Orphaned/abandoned and sick make up at least another six. Novice carers are advised to spend at least two years learning directly from those more experienced. You need to be able to correctly identify and understand the crisis you are faced with, have excellent assessment/diagnostic skills, have the ability to tailor individual treatment plans across all species, have the right equipment, medications and all the necessary feed and support therapy supplements on hand. Having suitable, safe facilities in which to treat and house wildlife is essential. Prior to applying for a Permit, the most important thing to do is an honest self-appraisal. Are you really cut out for this sort of work and commitment? Wildlife caring is not for everyone and it is not a platform for public praise or attention. DES have strict criteria to fulfil in order to become a registered carer. A current list of wildlife carers and contact numbers can be found on the informative SMBI Wildlife website: smbi.community/smbiwildlife If you wish to know more, please contact Kerri 0484 264 747, Michelle 0480 340451 and Steve 0435 957 777, Hilton 0444525659.
• Kerri Lawler-Rotkirch and Michelle Brown part of the team caring for island native animals.