A South Australian wombat is fighting for life after he was found dying on the side of the road with 26 shotgun pellets in him.
The three-year-old wombat, lovingly named Harold by the wildlife rescuers who are caring for him, was found by Julia Dangerfield as she drove in the state’s southeast on Sunday.
“I was able to walk right up to him and pick him up, which is highly unusual,” Ms Dangerfield told 9News.
“He had quite a lot of blowflies around him and … it smelled awful unfortunately.
“I think he had infected wounds at that point.”
Wildlife carer Ms Dangerfield had been driving from Kingston to a vet clinic in Robe when she spotted Harold lying just off the road.
“I put him in my car, he hardly put up a fight, and once he was in the crate he basically just lay down and went to sleep for the whole drive, the poor thing was absolutely exhausted,” Ms Dangerfield said.
Harold was rushed to the Wombat Awareness Organisation (WAO) Clinic, where he was immediately treated for heat exhaustion and dehydration.
WAO founder Brigitte Stevens asked for “urgent prayers” as she posted a photo of Harold’s X-ray, which showed 26 pellets “from head to toe”.
“His greatest threat is heat exhaustion and dehydration,” Ms Stevens said.
“Our vet has popped him on IV fluids, (antibiotics) and pain relief and he is becoming more responsive but he has a long way to go.
“The next few days are critical but we have everything crossed for this incredibly brave, resilient boy.”
Ms Stevens, who has been providing around-the-clock care to Harold, said he had been responding well to treatment and feeds.
“I am trying not to get too excited as the next 48 hours are crucial and he is far from being out of the woods but he showed enthusiasm for his food today! It is a really positive sign,” Ms Stevens said last night.
“Aside from this, he is still deeply resting and recovering. Please keep him in your thoughts, I know he feels everyone’s love. Come on baby, you’ve got this.”
Ms Stevens told 9News she believed Harold had been living with the pellets for more than two weeks before he was rescued.
“He’s been shot even in his mouth, he’s just got bullets absolutely everywhere, all through his body,” she said.
“I’ve seen lots of wombats shot but I just can’t believe that he would survive that many shootings.”
South Australia’s Environment Department is investigating the incident.