Valley in the grip of a tick plague

THE Clarence Valley is in the middle of a tick plague so severe a local WIRES volunteer had to shoot two kangaroos after he found them so ravaged with ticks they had almost lost mobility.

Dick Richards, who has volunteered with WIRES for the past 15 years and is tasked with putting wildlife down because he held a gun licence, said tick numbers were the worst he had ever seen.

"The fact these Australian natives are being affected, God help any dogs," he said.

"One of the kangaroos I had to shoot had ticks in its ears. It was shaking its head; a kangaroo can't scratch in its ear.

"It was the most I have ever seen on an animal. It had two big clusters at the base of each ear."

Mr Richards said he guessed each cluster in the kangaroo's ear had about 50 ticks.

It also had them around its eyes and shoulders.

"Each cluster was made up of ticks the size of your thumb's top knuckle. They were the big hard ticks, the ones that kill dogs no problem," he said.

"Native wildlife will often have a few ticks on them.

"They can cope with a small number, but this one was unsteady on its feet."

He said goannas, blue tongue lizards and platypuses had all been found with ticks on them.

Angourie Road Vet Surgery owner Karen Teasdale said she had more cases of ticks than the same time last year.

"We have seen a surprising up-tick in the number of ticks," Dr Teasdale said.

"We always expect more after rain."

Dr Teasdale said native animals had very large tick burdens because there was no one to pick them off like domestic animals.

She said the best way to deal with ticks was prevention.

"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and sometimes these guys can't be fixed," she said.

"When the pets have the ticks attached, that's when we see them.

"There are numerous different products to protect your pets against paralysis ticks."

She said there were collars, spot on products and a new monthly chewable.

"Speak to your vet for the best tick prevention to best suit you and your pet's lifestyle."

Mr Richards said he hated shooting kangaroos. He usually shot a roo after a car hit it and broke its bones.

"I was horrified. I can handle the odd tick or two, but when you see that cluster on an animal there was no way you could do anything with it."

One of the kangaroos was shot at Ashby and the other at Gulmarrad.

"It is never a pleasant job shooting animals. The quicker you can shoot them the better," Mr Richards said.

He said he came across the kangaroos after members of the public alerted WIRES.

"It was in my area. A member of the public called and said the animal was down and couldn't get up.

"But they did not know they were ticks."

He said ticks came out in muggy weather, but he never saw as many as this year and was combing his dog for ticks every day.

Topics:  editors picks wires

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