The big day finally arrived! Well the big day arrived two months ago, but it ended up being postponed due to border closures because of the pandemic. So Elsie and Barney were more than ready for life in the wild! Our morning started with a cuddle from Elsie – did she know her big day had finally arrived?
Then the travel crates were positioned inside their enclosure. I put some sweet potato and my fluffy dressing gown that Elsie grew up with, in the crate so she went in happily!
Barney wasn’t as thrilled to see a big crate so he took a little more convincing. It’s not a simple matter of just picking them up – both Elsie and Barney are heavy and they bite!
Finally when both Elsie and Barney were in their crates we were ready to set off on our travels!
A hug from another carer helping with the release – she’s checking in with me before we finally drive away … this is what support looks like. Working with wildlife is partly a team effort and this release couldn’t have work so well with out Laura and Evan!
For safety, two cars were taken with Elsie and Barney separated in different cars. The only thing worse than a wombat escaping from a crate while traveling would be two wombats escaping!! So it’s easier and safer to transport them separately!
A release isn’t just a matter of driving to the bush and dumping wombats! Researching the area and site visits have to be undertaken to locate empty burrows, ensure there’s a water source, an abundance of feed and that the site is away from humans and roads. Luckily the perfect place was found, two hours drive from Canberra, with nearly 600 acres of beautiful land with creeks and dams. The property owner has several of our wombats on his property. He has positioned cameras so we can monitor each burrow. This is a supported release – back into the wild but within a safe area. After a long drive we finally arrived and unloaded Barney.
Elsie was happy to follow me but Barney seemed a little overwhelmed! He stopped to smell everything and wee on everything to leave his scent – there’s a new boy in town!
The property owner showed us where the empty burrow was located – in an area called Fairy pond gully – such a beautiful new home for Elsie and Barney. Elsie loved it immediately! In fact she loved it so much that she claimed it first and didn’t really want to share it with Barney!
Barney even tried leaving a wee to establish some rights to the burrow – much to Elsie’s horror.
But Elsie was determined to keep her burrow to herself! She stood in the entrance growling so Barney started digging his own burrow right outside her door!
I sat for a very long time to ensure that both Elsie and Barney were happy and not stressed. I took a bag of their poo with me which was emptied out and placed around their burrow – this is like a welcome sign for wombats to make them feel at home! Seriously! It means their smell now marks their territory and sends a message to others as well. Finally both Elsie and Barney settled in.
When everything was peaceful it was time to go. The final goodbye….
In my last post, I wrote about the heartache that release time can bring for me especially after nearly two years with Elsie! So how do I feel now? To be honest, I feel better than I thought I would. How could I not be happy to have both wombats settled into such a beautiful area? I am relieved, this is what I work so hard to achieve. That’s not to say that when I look outside tomorrow morning at an empty wombat enclosure that I won’t feel a little sad (!) but I know that Elsie and Barney can now have the life they were meant to lead.
Elsie – from 120 grams to a happy 22 kilos !
Barney – from 600 grams to 20 kilos!
My job is done – I can relax now! Live your best life Elsie and Barney – you are home! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️