The Native Animal Trust Fund’s Hunter Wildlife Rescue volunteers have been kept busy in the aftermath of the recent bushfires in the region.
The organisation has rescued at least 20 possums from fire-stricken habitats around the Hunter.
Local area coordinator Judith Hopper estimated thousands of animals would have perished in this summer’s bushfires, and those that survived were left without homes and food.
“The fires were horrific in terms of speed, heat and area,” she said.
“Small wildlife like lizards, snakes, antechinus, possums and chicks in nests wouldn't have a hope.
“The rain didn't come for weeks after Kearsley and so survivors were left without food or shelter.”
Ms Hopper is currently looking after two possums that were found after bushfires in the Cessnock area this summer.
A little ringtail possum, dubbed Pandy, was found at Kearsley in November with serious burns to his ears, tail, nose and claws.
The fire brigade who found him marked the tree, and Ms Hopper hopes with the recent rain there should be enough growth for him to return soon.
She is also caring for an adult brushtail possum named Thomas, after the firefighter who found him after the Loxford fire on January 18.
The care routine includes washing the wounds, applying cream and wrapping, daily injections of antibiotics and hand-feeding.
Ms Hopper said the animals have gone through a lot of trauma and it takes a lot of time and care to prepare them for their return to the wild.
She said being a wildlife carer is not like looking after a cute and cuddly kitten, but releasing an animal into the wild makes it all worthwhile.
“There’s nothing quite like it… to see an animal recover from horrific wounds, and learn to trust you and grow up to reach their potential, that’s what gives you the drive,” she said.
“Gaining that trust is a real privilege.”
Volunteers are helping to feed a mob of kangaroos on burnt-out land at Loxford, with support from the property owner, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and Kurri Produce.
Hunter Wildlife Rescue has also placed food and water stations for animals around the bushfire zones and monitors these stations regularly.
The organisation will hold an introduction session for new members at Shortland Wetlands Centre on Saturday, February 11.
For more information, call the Native Animal Trust Fund hotline on 0418 628 483 and ask to be put in touch with your local area coordinator.