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How to drench a wombat and cure the mange: ACT trial is a success

Genevieve Jacobs 1 June 2019 22

ACT Wildlife’s mange-treatment trial in Lanyon has been a success. Photo: Supplied.

Common agricultural chemicals, ACT election corflutes and old fashioned determination have combined to successfully combat deadly mange along the Murrumbidgee River at Lanyon, and now volunteers are looking to expand their work to another problem spot for the local wombat population.

The successful collaborative trial at Lanyon between ACT Wildlife and Parks and Conservation on treating mange means that a further project to manage an expanding problem on Cooleman Ridge is now likely to proceed if it gains funding and support.

ACT Wildlife president Marg Peachey said the recently concluded two-year trial had provided invaluable insights into how to deliver Cydectin drench effectively to sick wombats, and to understand how reinfection occurs in local populations.

“Cooleman Ridge is a very busy area where lots of people take their dogs for a walk, and we’ve been receiving reports for a while about the number of mangey wombats up there,” she said. “We’ve now identified where a lot of the burrows are, but there’s more work to be done on the size and distribution of the local population.”

Marg Peachey says that while the Lanyon trial happened in a relatively undisturbed area with little potential for impact on people and domestic animals, ACT Wildlife Rescue would need permission to carry out the treatment trial in the much more heavily populated area. It’s necessary, however, as mange now appears to be endemic in some local populations.

The treatment regime is simple: wombats respond readily to the right dose of Cydectin, a commonly available but relatively expensive agricultural drench. Getting the delivery mechanism right has been a matter of trial and error, but ACT Wildlife evolved an ingenious method involving, of all things, election corflutes.

The tough weather-resistant material is cut onto flaps that are installed on gates across burrow entries. The drench goes into a dispenser cup on the top of the gate that tips along the wombat’s backline as they go in and out.

The trial had a significant effect on the rates of mange in the Lanyon population, but Marg says that because wombats often re-use old infected burrows, the Lanyon trial has also taught researchers that treatment must be ongoing, rather than a process of complete eradication.

There’s a good roll-call of volunteers on hand to set up the gates but ACT Wildlife urgently needs either funds to purchase Cydectin or donations of the chemical, which is readily available at rural supplies stores.

What they don’t need, she says with a laugh, is more corflutes. “We’ve got enough of them to last forever after the last ACT elections. We even had someone roll up with the corflute advertising after sports grounds switched to electronic signs and we got the remainders.”

Sarcoptic mange is a skin infection in mammals that is caused by a burrowing parasitic mite. It affects more than 100 mammal species worldwide, including domestic animals, ringtail possums, brown bandicoots, koalas and common wombats.

Mange infection can result in aggressive scratching, hair loss, skin thickening and crusting, skin discolouration, open wounds (from scratching), weight loss and even death. The mite is thought to have arrived on the Australian continent with European settlement and wombats appear to be particularly susceptible to infestation.

“We’ve learned a lot from the Lanyon trial, but that was small biccies,” Marg Peachey says. “We’re ready to embark on something much bigger now.”

To make a donation or learn more about wombat mange in the ACT, visit ACT Wildlife .


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22 Responses to
How to drench a wombat and cure the mange: ACT trial is a success
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12:32 pm 02 Jun 19

Take it to Wee Jasper the Wombat capital of the work just about.

9:55 pm 01 Jun 19

Some people might be interested: There is a Viennese chamber concert upcoming on June 15 (2.30pm, family friendly) in support of Sleepy Burrows Wombat Sanctuary Gundaroo. Info & tix see www.trybooking.com/bcqlm

8:42 pm 01 Jun 19

Peter Flood interesting?

8:15 pm 01 Jun 19

Does anyone know if you can purchase Cydectin in small amounts? We live on a property and there are wombats in need of treatment but from what I can see online a 2L bottle of Cydectin is around $350?

7:40 pm 01 Jun 19

I’m sorry, but this is not true!!! I was at Lanyon Homestead just last week where I saw three terribly manged wombats with my own eyes. There was evidence of only one or two flaps in an area of dozens of burrows. I had to call a ranger to euthanize one because it was suffering so badly. When I contacted ACT Wildlife they said they didn’t have enough volunteers to treat the wombats and hadn’t been out to this area in months.

    9:11 pm 01 Jun 19

    Hi Kelly. The story says the trial period has concluded at Lanyon, and they now know reinfection can occur and much more about how to treat it. They don't say that mange has been eradicated at Lanyon: it's about needing help to tackle other areas and keep working on it.

    9:14 pm 01 Jun 19

    Hi Dave Jacobs , I don’t believe that the trial was successful enough to move on to a new area. They should not abandon these wombats and just leave them there to die a slow, excruciating death.

    6:50 pm 03 Jun 19

    Kelly Mcleod so sounds like you would make a perfect volunteer to help ACT Wildlife. I’m sure they would appreciate all the help they can get.

    6:55 pm 03 Jun 19

    I already am a volunteer for a wildlife group Robert Butcher, and I’m way ahead of you. I don’t appreciate a large organization spruiking about what an amazing job they are doing while animals in their area are suffering

    8:07 pm 03 Jun 19

    Thank you for caring.

    9:26 pm 03 Jun 19

    Kathryn Eliot Absolutely I do. I’m very certain that I know a lot more than you think.

    9:48 pm 03 Jun 19

    Kelly Mcleod I don't live in Australia but I know a number of people who do, they have nothing to do with large organisations but they will spend 48 hrs without sleep to care for an ill wombat. That that that is not the case in your area is heartbreaking. Which wildlife group do you volunteer for?

4:32 pm 01 Jun 19

Question... is it spread from foxes or do wombats get mange anyway? But good on ya everyone involved 🤙👏🤗

4:13 pm 01 Jun 19

Mange is just so cruel

4:13 pm 01 Jun 19

Wonderful!

4:01 pm 01 Jun 19

Well done, guys!

3:56 pm 01 Jun 19

Peter Leo Harry. Prapassorn NumPhung Interesting

3:49 pm 01 Jun 19

Load up a super soaker .

3:34 pm 01 Jun 19

Yes please! We love our wombats up the hill!

3:34 pm 01 Jun 19

Good news!

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