The head of a New Plymouth veterinary clinic is being hailed as a conservation hero for being the man to turn to to care for injured native birds back to health.
The DOC Taranaki staff has awarded Rob Mills the gong as part of Conservation Week for his decades of service to bird misadventures.
Mills was a reluctant hero, preferring to shift the accolades elsewhere.
“Oh okay, hero is a bit of an exaggeration, but yeah, look at many years, 15 or 20 years ago, it was actually my wife, Dawn, who started it all.
“She has a great interest in all things birds and she went and did some graduate school and as part of that she increased our interest in wild birds.”
Mills is the clinical director of the New Plymouth Vet Group.
His practice treats birds pro bono.
He said that once word got out, people started bringing more and more injured birds to the clinic.
“Every now and then people … not knowing where to take them … they would bring them, so it all started from there and then we started actively recording, you know, what we were seeing and a lot of interest grew from that and, to Sometimes it certainly looks like a snowball. “
The clinic has now treated over 1,200 injured native birds and developed a relationship with Wildbase Hospital at Massey University.
Mills said the most commonly injured birds were kererū that had flown into the windows.
“Usually we anesthetize them, we give them fluids, pain relievers, we take some X-rays and if everything looks like it’s going to have a good long-term result, Averil, one of our nurses here, coordinates with Wildbase and Aramex, the messengers, and we can take them there and make them available. “
Veterinary Nurse Averil Osborne said it was a rewarding job.
“It’s really cool. I mean obviously it’s a different side of their pets and things like that, so it’s also a different kind of breastfeeding. And it’s quite rewarding and I guess the most rewarding thing is releasing and I have to be part of a release recently and it was just amazing. “
DOC Taranaki Senior Biodiversity Ranger Cameron Hunt said the impact of Mills’ work cannot be underestimated.
“Especially with our little blue penguins, the kororā, they get beaten up quite a bit and this amazing service, you know, the volunteer service that New Plymouth Vet Group provides, where we just show up with a box with an injured bird … the staff take it. and, as a result, the conservation results are astonishing. “
Hunt said that Mills was someone who truly cared about the welfare of all animals, not just pets.
Meanwhile, the vet said that after treating more than 1,200 native birds, not all successfully, some still stood out in memory.
One is a tūī who came in with a broken wing, before the Wildbase deal.
“And we were able to repair it by using hypodermic needles as pins to hold the bones together. It went quite well and ended up in Ōtorohanga in the wildlife area there. He was not up to the mark of being fully released and by the time I had hospitalized him, he was also quite meek “.
Conservation Week ends on Sunday.