"Lynn needs a hand catching a small kangaroo in a back yard," she said. "Can you go?"
I think I said "Mumble."
"It's in Oxley Circle. That's just a few blocks from you, isn't it?"
So I arrived at the house at 9am, unbreakfasted and decaffeinated. I met the owner, Karen, who let me through the very tall wire gate into the yard. "It's to keep my dog in," she explained. "It's a rottweiler." She told me that she heard loud banging in the back yard when she woke, and saw her dog wrestling with something on the ground. Then the thing kicked and sent the dog flying through the air. That's when she saw it was a young kangaroo.
My heart sank. Anything that could send a rottweiler flying was not a young animal. Lynn pointed to the shade under a bush. I could just make out the dark fur with white stripes on the face. Then it hopped into the sun. Oh no! A fully grown, male swamp wallaby. They're insane! The last time I had to catch one of these it took me and 5 blokes from the zoo with a net. And that one was smaller than this one. This bloke stood at least 1 metre high, and weighed about 15kg.
The wallaby charged around the yard, bashed into the fence, then raced back to the bush. Every so often he smacked the ground hard with his feet as he hopped. When he reached the bush he turned to face us and thrashed his tail though the leaves. His whole attitude said "Bugger off."
I said we'd need help and Lynn agreed, suggesting the Zoo. Karen brought her phone out, I rang the vet centre and spoke to Belinda. After I described the situation she said she'd contact the "Macropod Boys" to see what they could do. 10 minutes later she phoned back and said she and the other vet would come out to dart the animal.
I'd never seen a darting in real life before! Excellent!
Thirty minutes later, Belinda and Ben arrived in a zoo ute. I wonder what the neighbours thought. Here was a small truck with "Western Plains Zoo" badges on the doors, and people in "Western Plains Zoo" uniforms were assembling a small rifle on the street.
The gun is nifty little light-weight affair powered by a CO2 sparklet bulb. Ben measured the anaesthetic into the dart and pushed it into the gun. Then he gave the bulb a twist and I heard a fizz as the gun charged up. It sounded a lot like the Babylon 5 PPGs.
Ben and Belinda went hunting. Lynn and I stood near the gate to wave our arms if required. The Wallaby took off around the yard and ran straight at us. Me. Straight at me. Lynn went "EEP! And I found myself waving my arms on my own. I don't blame her, really. This was a pissed off animal who could do a rottweiler before breakfast. So I waved my arms which was enough. He turned and charged around the yard before fetching up in a corner. Ben raised the gun and fired.
The wallaby charged at Ben, who ducked, and leapt over a wheelie bin, clearing the of the bin (and Ben) by a good metre. Ben retrieved the dart and we all stood at the gate while the swampy bounced around the yard.
While we waited I showed the vets some photos of Bek and Ace. They were both interested in bats! These vets are Very Cool Indeed. Ben said if I needed any supplies to let him know. I told them about the bat tents. Belinda laughed about people who thought microbats were baby flying foxes. Ha ha ha we went at the silly people.
After a few minutes the wallaby settled under the bush and began licking his arms. Belinda said that was a stress signal. Then he wobbled. "Here he goes!" said Ben. The wallaby wobbled some more then fell onto his side.
They examined the animal and said he was very thin, probably due to the drought, then bagged him. And that's pretty much it. We said goodbye to each other and I headed home for coffee and lunch.