The Katoomba WIRES volunteer looking after Blue Mountains wildlife

Tracy Burgess has a full house. The Blue Mountains WIRES volunteer has 10 brushtail possums in her care, to be released back into the wild within the next month, once they're healthy and able to fend for themselves.

She drives hundreds of kilometres each week to rescue injured wildlife in the Blue Mountains, and parts of the Hawkesbury and Lithgow local government areas.

Ms Burgess takes in a lot of possums and says the majority of calls for possum retrieval are from Blaxland and Glenbrook, which she puts down to a loss of habitat.

"Think carefully before cutting down any trees. Think of trees as native animal apartment blocks. We are getting more and more animals homeless and fighting for survival because of habitat loss, particularly in the Lower Mountains," she said.

Baby possums that are just a few weeks old require feeding five times a day, which means a broken night's sleep.

"It's a big commitment, and it's worth it," Ms Burgess said. At the moment, the public servant has taken a break from her job which involved commuting into Sydney, so she's been available for more callouts. On average she's responding to 10-15 callouts a week for injured wildlife.

After the hazard reduction at Lawson in May, she took four echidnas into care within a fortnight of the burn. She also looks after flying foxes and microbats, as she's one of the few Blue Mountains WIRES volunteers vaccinated for the Australian lyssavirus, which less that 1 per cent of flying foxes carry.

She regularly fields questions about how people can help injured wildlife.

"Call WIRES, and try and contain it - a large washing basket over the top of it and a sheet so it's in the dark will mean it's less stressed," Ms Burgess said. Checking the pouch for young is also important.

Alternatively, if it's possible to wrap the animal in a blanket, take it to the vet, most vets in the Mountains will treat injured wildlife for free.

She often gets callouts for flying foxes and microbats caught in barbed wire and netting over fruit trees.

"If you can get your finger through the netting it's bad netting," Ms Burgess said. Gauze netting is best, and completely cover the tree so no wildlife can fly under the net, she said.

In South Australia, vineyards are investigating using microbats as a type of natural insecticide, as they eat the insects that like the grapes. Using the tiny flying mammals has the benefit of using less pesticides in the vineyards.

Ms Burgess says more volunteers at WIRES are always welcomed, and would love to hear from anyone who has a property with space for an aviary where possums can be gradually released back into the bush.

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