Managing Mange in the Mullion

The Yass Valley (CAN) Inc has been awarded a grant to conduct a study to determine the extent of Sarcoptic Mange in populations of Bare Nosed Wombats at three sites in the Mullion. Photo: supplied.
The Yass Valley (CAN) Inc has been awarded a grant to conduct a study to determine the extent of Sarcoptic Mange in populations of Bare Nosed Wombats at three sites in the Mullion. Photo: supplied.

There is a group of local mothers dedicating their spare time to providing important research data about Sarcoptic Mange in populations of Bare Nosed Wombats in the Mullion.

The Yass Valley Cultural Aboriginal and Natural Resource Management Incorporation - Yass Valley (CAN) Inc. - has been awarded a grant from Southern Phone Ltd to conduct a study to determine the extent of Sarcoptic Mange in populations of Bare Nosed Wombats at three sites in the Mullion. The project is being supported by researchers at the University of Tasmania and the University of Canberra.

The community led initiative is trying to establish a possible link between habitat fragmentation and loss of genetic diversity and the presence of mange. 

Unless mange is treated, the infestation progresses and eventually the wombat is so severely compromised it dies. Mange is caused by infestation of the mange mite. The female mites burrow under the skin, where they deposit eggs, which hatch and cause intense discomfort. Over time thick plaques that look like scabs and ridges form over the wombat's body. These plaques become dry and split open, the wounds can then become flyblown and infected.

Long term Mullion resident, Cathy Campbell, is a member of Managing Mange in the Mullion and said the project is broken into a number of stages, the first being a population survey to determine how many wombats are living in three carefully selected sites and where their burrows are located. 

This is the first formal population survey of Bare Nosed Wombat populations in the Mullion. The three sites are located on Cavan Station, Westdale and Adnamira. 

The extent of mange infestation will be determined for all wombats in each of the sites with the University of Canberra analysing wombat scats to help determine if there is a link between habitat fragmentation and rates of mange infestation.

The next stage is to treat all wombats at the three sites over a 12 week period and this is how the general public can help. 

The treatment program involves constructing 200 or more burrow flaps using 4 litre ice cream lids and milk bottle tops. The burrow flaps will pour the treatment on to the wombats as they exit or enter their burrows. 

Non-toxic dye will also be used on the wombats to identify which ones have been treated, Ms Campbell said. Infrared cameras will record delivery of the treatment. 

"Following the treatment period, we will continue to monitor the wombats at the three sites for a period of three months for re-infestation," she said.

"What we really need is ice cream container lids and milk bottle tops. We are trying to engage the broader community about this issue. Students and teachers from Yass High have helped with spotlighting and we would love to hear from anyone else in the community interested in lending a hand."

Another way of assisting is by recording any sightings of wombats in Yass Valley using a mobile phone app called WomSAT. The app enables users to record both the GPS location of wombats and information about their health.

You can contact Managing Mange in the Mullion  through its facebook page https://www.facebook.com/1121cavanroad/

Donations of 4L ice cream container lids and milk bottle tops can be left at Yass Valley Council in the special bin that has been placed in the foyer.

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