Norma’s big heart for local wildlife
By Daisy Baker
11 April, 2018
WELL-KNOWN Bridport wildlife carer Norma Baker says she has always loved animals but she got serious about caring for them around age 10, when she brought an injured piglet with a grim future home from a farm visit.
Ms Baker now cares for everything from wombats and wallabies, through to the Eastern Grey kangaroo, possums and occasionally penguins and platypus.
As several young wombats scamper across the loungeroom, she laughs, saying her house is a bit like Noah’s Ark and all the animals get along.
She says she became known to the local community as a wildlife carer through word-of-mouth, after moving back from South Australia in 2000, where she had cared for native birds for national parks.
She is currently caring for six wombats, two baby sugar gliders and one Bennett’s wallaby who has a broken leg, as well as twenty or so older animals living in her yard.
Ms Baker says she is almost at her record number of wombats (eight) which is unusual given this is the ‘quiet season’.
“They’ve all come as little babies, some of them don’t have any fur when I get them so all they know is me and my place,” she says.
“I also get lots of visitors, particularly from overseas.
“If they go into the Pavilion for tourist information, they often comment on the amount of roadkill and the volunteers there sometimes ring and ask if they can come up to see the animals.”
Ms Baker keeps the television running all day so the animals grow up used to a variety of voices and noises.
She says once they are weaned, the animals go outside and she is the only person they have contact with.
This process, she says, is vital before she can release them back into the wild.
“As they get older, they have to learn that not all people are nice,” she says sadly.
“I need them to react normally because one day they might see someone leaning on a stick and go up to them, and that stick will probably be a gun.”
All of the animals Ms Baker currently cares for, except the sugar gliders, were rescued from roadkill.
“The whole aim of what I do is to make it one instead of two lives being lost.
“If you see something native dead on the side of the road, please check if it’s a female and has a pouch – there could well be a baby in it and the baby will stay there until mum virtually disintegrates around her.
“All you need to do is put a pillowcase and tie in your car and if you find a little one, you can put in the pillowcase and phone the nearest vet.”
Ms Baker is a true town treasure whose heart knows no limits.