Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson lost almost everything when fire tore through their Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary on New Year’s Eve.
Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson lost almost everything when fire tore through their Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary on New Year’s Eve.

Complaint made against bushfire wildlife heroes

A wildlife carer couple say they were reported to animal welfare authorities for euthanising a badly-burnt wallaby in the wake of the bushfire disaster.

Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson lost almost everything when fire tore through their Cobargo Wildlife Sanctuary on New Year's Eve.

The couple, who were away at the time, returned the next day to discover their home destroyed, while some of the 150 kangaroos, wallabies and wombats who usually roamed the 350ha haven were injured.

Wildlife carers Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson were reported to animal welfare authorities after putting down a badly-burnt wallaby following recent bushfires. Picture: Liam Driver
Wildlife carers Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson were reported to animal welfare authorities after putting down a badly-burnt wallaby following recent bushfires. Picture: Liam Driver

Among them was a wallaby­ so badly burnt it had to be put down. Ms Tilling said she was horrified when an Animal Welfare League officer later turned up in ­response to a complaint.

"We found an absolutely horrifically burnt, still-alive wallaby," Ms Tilling said.

"We had a visit from Animal­ Welfare in regards to the fact we had to euthanise it, which I found absolutely horrendous.

"We're wildlife carers, we dedicate our entire existence to ensuring the survival of these guys, so (to have to) euthanise­ an animal under those circumstances was absolutely horrific.

"And then for people to ring ­and complain - what was humane, leaving it to suffer? You're in the middle of a disaster zone."

This four-month-old swamp wallaby joey, Sammy, is cared for by Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson, on their property outside of Cobargo. Picture: Liam Driver
This four-month-old swamp wallaby joey, Sammy, is cared for by Sara Tilling and Gary Henderson, on their property outside of Cobargo. Picture: Liam Driver

No action was taken against the couple, who have spent the past two months living in a caravan caring for 11 orphaned joeys. Ms Willing, who campaigns against how kangaroos are slaughtered to be used in pet food, said little government funding had yet reached the area since the fires.

"They talked about wildlife feed drops - we haven't seen one thing down here," she said.

"We haven't dropped our care to our roos even though we're living out of a caravan and we've had absolutely nothing."