By Molly Taylor
A WOMBAT found riddled with at least 26 shotgun pellets and left to fight for its life on the side of a highway near Robe has died despite the efforts of wildlife rescuers.
Early last week, a Wombat Awareness Organisation representative was driving between Kingston and Robe when they spotted the three-year-old wombat, since named Harold, with numerous wounds, suffering from severe dehydration and heat exhaustion.
Transported to a specialist sanctuary in the Adelaide Hills, Harold’s condition sadly deteriorated on Saturday and he died in his sleep Sunday morning.
Organisation founding director Brigitte Stevens said Harold had shown signs of making a rapid recovery, but the odds were always against him.
“When a carer found him he was covered in blowflies and was smelly. His wounds near his abdomen were starting to get quite infected,” Ms Stevens said.
“He had lost a lot of weight and most likely had severe internal injuries from the shooting.
“We knew the odds were against him, but it was quite a shock when he passed away because he was actually showing us all the positive signs.”
Mr Stevens said initially vets thought Harold had peritonitis, but were completely blown away when an x-ray of his body revealed 26 lodged bullet pellets.
“Some wounds were quite healed, so from that we could gauge he was shot around two weeks before he came into care,” he said.
“We have had quite a number of wombats who have come in with bullet wounds, but just not that many times.
“It is a huge problem and people just do not hear about it much. It does happen quite a lot.”
Ms Stevens said wombats were a significant part of Australian culture and hoped Harold’s unfortunate outcome would raise awareness and put an end to malicious and cruel attacks.