‘I really thought I was going to lay there and die’: Wombat mauls woman walking dogs in Canberra

Banks woman Kerry Evans was attacked by a wombat while walking dogs Murphy and Pirate (pictured) in the suburban street of Tom Roberts Avenue in Banks, ACT. Photo: Karleen Minney One of the bites Banks woman Kerry Evans sustained when she was attacked by a wombat. Photo: Dave Evans
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Wombats have a reputation for being cute and cuddly but a woman mauled by one in Canberra has warned others to stay away from the marsupials.

Kerry Evans suffered more than 20 bites and lacerations across her body after she was attacked by a large wombat while walking her dogs in a suburban street in Banks, in south Canberra, on Monday night.

She toldFairfax Media she was taking her two English springer spaniels along their usual route on Tom Roberts Avenue about 7.30pm when she saw what appeared to be a “large boulder” ahead in a front yard.

“I thought ‘I don’t remember seeing this before’ and I got quite close to it and I saw it move and all of a sudden it dawned on me what it was,” Mrs Evans said.

The wombat charged her dog, Murphy, which began yelping and tried to flee.

In the chaos, Mrs Evans became tangled in the leads and was knocked to the ground.

That’s when the wombat turned on her, she said.

“I was laying screaming for help, I couldn’t get away from it, every time I managed to get up it attacked me and bit me and knocked me to the ground,” she said.

“I really thought I was going to lay there and die that night because I just couldn’t see how I was going to get way from it, it just wasn’t stopping its attack.”

A neighbour and nearby driver were able to intervene, an act Mrs Evans said may have saved her life.

“One woman screamed ‘let go of the dogs’ and I wouldn’t because my dogs were terrified, I was scared of them running off in the dark so both ladies approached from different angles and grabbed the dogs off me and got away pretty quickly because they were scared of being attacked themselves,” she said.

“Then I managed to get to my feet and get away to the lady who was screaming ‘come here, come here’ and the wombat just disappeared.”

Paramedics were called and Mrs Evans was taken to hospital. An ACT Health spokeswoman confirmed she was treated at Canberra Hospital on Monday night.

Three of the large, slit-like bites from the wombat’s “buck teeth” required stitches, but Mrs Evans said the real problem was the potential for infection.

“When I was in hospital I had to have quite a few bags of IV because they don’t know enough about the risk of infection from wombats,” she said.

“They even had to go and make sure I didn’t have rabies. I know that sounds silly in Australia but the doctor actually had to go and check on that.”

Mrs Evans reported the attack to ACT Parks and Conservation but rangers were unable to find the wombat, she said.

“The ranger I spoke to said he’d actually contacted a wombat carer and she said to him although she hadn’t heard of attacks, she’d seen them attack other wombats and that they could be very vicious,” Mrs Evans said.

“So she could imagine my description how it could have happened because once they start attacking, they just keep attacking and they don’t stop.”

While rare, wombat attacks on humans are not unheard of.

In 2010, a Victorian man was hospitalised after a ferocious encounter in which the animal repeatedly bit, scratched and knocked over the Black Saturday survivor.

An ACT Parks and Conservation spokesman said it was the first wombat attack they were aware of in Canberra.

“Without knowing the full details of what happened it is likely that the presence of dogs meant that the wombat felt threatened,” he said.

However, Mrs Evans said neither she nor the dogs approached the animal.

“I certainly know the dogs didn’t threaten it but whether it felt threatened I don’t know, who knows what a wombat thinks,” she said.

“The ranger did actually say to me it was really unusual because most wild wombats would get away.

“They wouldn’t let anyone get as close to it as what I did, so whether or not it was sick with mange or had been injured or was an aggressive wombat or whether it was a female with a joey in its pouch, I don’t know.”

Her message to others?

“If you see a wombat, turn around and go the other way. Do not approach it in any shape or form,” Ms Evans said.

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Live exports controlled by ‘small band of multinational companies’, say Bidda Jones and Julian Davies

Bidda Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist and her partner, novelist Julian Davis: “The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies”. Photo: Christopher Pearce Cattle bound for live export on Tipperary station, Northern Territory. Photo: Glenn Campbell
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In March 2011 Animals Australia investigator Lyn White visited 11 abattoirs in Indonesia to assess the live export trade. Image shows distressed, roped Australian steer vocalising prior to slaughter on MLA installed equipment. Photo: Animals Australia.

Aesop’s​ foibles, or how government reacts to animal cruelty.

Fable 1: Mike Baird dispatches the greyhound racing industry with alacrity in the belief owners killed nearly 70,000 dogs.

Fable 2: Barnaby Joyce believes more asylum seekers arrived by boat after Australia suspended the Indonesian live cattle export trade.

Bidda​ Jones, RSPCA Australia’s chief scientist, blew the whistle on Indonesian abattoir workers cruelly hacking to death Australian cattle.

It was early March 2011 when Jones walked into the ABC’s Ultimo headquarters with a DVD.

The footage, by Animals Australia investigators, showed Australian cattle being dispatched with extreme prejudice at 11 Indonesian abattoirs. Jones had watched some 50 killings, replaying each one four times, sometimes in slow motion. One steer was shown hacked to oblivion after it stumbled. Death took more than three minutes to arrive.

“The steer is thrashing his head, blood spraying from the gaping wound, as the slaughtermen move away, their job apparently complete,” Jones writes in her co-authored book, Backlash: Australia’s conflict of values over live exports.

“The rope is untied from around the steer’s neck, and the slaughterman puts his foot on the steer’s head and makes more cuts at the steers throat. He vocalises in response, his eyes rolling, mouth moving and tongue hanging out.”

Two months later, when the footage was shown as part of an award-winning Four Corners program, “A Bloody Business”, the federal government briefly suspended the trade. Five years on, live cattle export is back bigger than ever in Indonesia, and Vietnam. China is the latest market to be targeted.

Jones and her partner, novelist Julian Davies, have written Backlash partly as a counter to powerful interests they believe have successfully stymied the taste for reform of the live export trade that followed the national furore in 2011.

“There was a lot of optimism that change would really happen,” she says. “But things got slightly ahead of themselves. The hope that change will happen remains, but the people benefiting from the industry have got hold of the agenda and there has been a backlash. The book is aimed at showing what happened, the extraordinary political back story, and dispel the myths that have grown since about animal welfare.”

Only about 12 per cent of the giant Australian meat industry is involved in live export. There is little information on how much of that business is foreign-owned but it is a hugely costly undertaking, involving ships and overseas regulations.

Jones and Davies are an unlikely pair to take on such powerful interests.

They live with their two teenage daughters on a property outside Braidwood in the NSW southern tablelands. She was born in Liverpool, UK, he in Melbourne. They met as children in England, got together in the 1990s and built their house on the block of land Davies had carved out of the bush for himself as a twentysomething.

Spruiking their book, they agreed to meet at Cafe Morso​ in Pyrmont. She chose the corn and gruyere souffle tart with capsicum relish, poached egg and avocado, he selected the beetroot cured salmon.  A working lunch, both went with water.

A zoologist, Jones worked for the British RSPCA before coming to Australia.

Several decades ago, when most people connected the RSPCA with cats and dogs, farm animal welfare remained a minority concern. When Peter Singer’s book on the ethical treatment of animals was published in 1975, battery hens and sow pens were not yet public issues. Even so, the fate of live cattle is far from a new concern, the Howard government suspending sending live cattle to Egypt in 2006 following television footage showing mistreatment of the animals. And pity the poor sheep: they’ve been suffering poor conditions and high mortality on their way to the Middle East ever since the live sheep trade cranked up in the 1980s.

Today, animal welfare is mainstream; but proponents are routinely dismissed as members of the “meat is murder” brigade.

Jones chose to address such cliches thus: “Most Australians eat meat and will continue to. We’re not fighting against that. What we’re about is trying to ensure that those animals are treated as well as possible in that process.

“In my work I meet a lot of people who are vegan or vegetarian and there’s quite a lot of attention to ethical food concerns today, but I’m not vegetarian. It’s partly because as a zoologist I’ve always thought that the idea that it is intrinsically wrong for an animal to eat another animal is unrealistic, if not slightly bizarre.”

Jones says she was amazed at the craven greed of the meat industry in chasing the Indonesian live export trade with little thought for the consequences for the animals or Australia’s trade reputation

“There continue to be huge investments in live export ships unaccompanied by an improvement in standards so desperately needed,” she says.

“In Indonesia cattle are smaller, and highly domesticated, and easily led by a rope to slaughter. By contrast our Brahman steers are large, frightening, frightened animals raised on huge properties, free ranging and seeing people little more than once a year. Then, they are mustered, herded onto a boat and sent off to Indonesia to be slaughtered by people totally unused to handling such animals. We Australians created that situation.”

Davies says it is easy to understand the fear that reform engenders in meat producers.

Living in the bush, he says, is to be constantly reminded of the stark realities of farm life: “There are booms and busts. It’s tenuous and therefore quite hard to be punctilious about animal welfare when there is a constant fear of going broke. But this is exactly why we need to further a sustainable, high-quality, high-reputation, meat-only trade.”

Perhaps the Australian meat trade has always been in the hands of the few. The days of LordVestey and Sidney Kidman may have passed but the sense of entitlement and the ethos the cattle kings fostered still rules.

“The export industry is in the hands of a small band of multinational companies,” Davies says.

“If you actually looked at where the money in live export is going it would be really interesting: They – the governments of Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull – talk about the need to increase farm gate prices but who are the main beneficiaries of live export? The people at the top of the pile are very wealthy people, people who don’t want their wealth eroded by having to pay more to ensure the welfare of the animals they make money from.”

Davies says it would be far better if the government – primarily held back by the National Party flank – pushed for the slaughter to be done in Australia and thereby ensure welfare standards while increasing employment in our own country.

“[Nationals leader] Barnaby Joyce is talking about opening up the live trade to China. Chilled meat exports to China have rocketed as its middle class develops a taste for beef. But the Chinese want quality and don’t like bad publicity. A scandal in the live trade, like the sledge hammering slaughter of cattle in Vietnam, could destroy the large, lucrative chilled meat trade to China.

“So what are we doing? We’re risking shipping jobs off to China, when we have a successful, clean, ethical meat industry here. The powers that be want to undermine that by sending cattle off to China. Incredible.”

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Queensland earthquake: Aftershocks will be felt for ‘weeks’

The location of an earthquake that struck off Bowen early on Friday morning. Photo: Geioscience AustraliaThe aftershocks from Thursday’s earthquake off the Queensland coast will be felt for “weeks”, a seismologist says, after a smaller earthquake hit near Airlie Beach on Friday.
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Thursday’s magnitude 5.8 earthquake was recorded about 70 kilometres off the coast, north-east of Bowen, caused six aftershocks, including a magnitude 4, in the following hours.

Three schools and Cairns airport were shut down temporarily, while several buildings in Townsville’s CBD were evacuated.

On Friday, residents and tourists at Airlie Beach woke to a magnitude three earthquake that occurred nearby at 7.37am.

Geoscience Australia senior seismologist Jonathan Bathgate said the aftershocks would continue for weeks.

“We would expect the aftershock sequence from yesterday to continue for a while, a few weeks at least, but apart from that we really can’t predict if there is going to be another sequence somewhere along the coast,” he said.

Mr Bathgate said the aftershocks were the result of fault lines readjusting back to equilibrium.

“You get the main shock that is a really big movement of the faults and the period after that is the fault readjusting itself back to equilibrium state,” he said.

“If you move something really quickly and then let it go it takes a bit of time to reach an equilibrium state so these are all just small adjustments to get it into a point where the fault will start again to build up some stress on that fault and lock together until it goes again some time in future.”

Earthquakes occur in Queensland due to the Australian plate moving northward, about seven centimetres a year, and colliding with the Pacific plate.

This causes stress to build up, which is released by earthquakes that Mr Bathgate said could not be predicted.

“It is something we don’t know, we can’t predict where it is going to occur or when so at the moment it is just a matter of monitoring the area,” he said.

“We are sending out some extra monitoring equipment over the next week to deploy on some of the islands and along the coast line to get a better idea of where the activity is occurring and get a better idea of what is causing it.”

Mr Bathgate said the region near Bowen had been quite active over the last 18 months.

“In terms of what we have recorded, it has been active over the last 18 months, the area does have a history of activity, but it has not been as frequent as it has,” he said.

“We know the area gets earthquakes but they are generally not that common.”

The Bowen area was also hit in 2011 with a magnitude 5.3 earthquake that was significantly closer to the coast than yesterday’s incident.

Queensland’s largest recorded earthquake was a magnitude 6 in 1918 that originated near Lady Elliott Island and was felt from Mackay to Grafton.

The state’s second largest was Thursday’s earthquake, followed closely by a 5.4 magnitude earthquake in 2015 that was recorded east of Fraser Island.

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Eade says sleepover had nothing to do with huge defeat

Gold Coast coach Rodney Eade has rejected suggestions that the Suns’ defeat on Saturday night was directly related to the side remaining in Melbourne for the past week.
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After the injury-ravaged young side were defeated by Essendon last week, club hierarchy decided to keep the side in Melbourne for the week leading up to the Collingwood game.

However, Eade said that the week-long stay in Melbourne had little to do with the Collingwood thrashing on Saturday night.

“It had nothing to do with it. I don’t see the relevance, to be honest. I said ‘we’re fatigued’ coming into the last week’s game,” Eade said.

Some quarters of the AFL community were doubting the wisdom of having the side away from home.

“Weather you sleep in a different bed, how does that make a difference? Because it’s the end of the season, we know the guys are fatiguing and it was just to change it up and give them different stimulus,” Eade said.

“If we were back on the Gold Coast, we would have done something different, too, like going to paintball or something to actually change it up.

“They’ve given as much as they can for the last eight or nine weeks and especially since all the midfielders have gone out, which has been the last five or six weeks. You couldn’t ask any more.”

However, Eade preferred to focus on the mounting number of injuries in his young side.

“We needed to use the ball as well as we could but we struggled in that area as well. We’re struggling for run,” he said.

“[Callum] Ah Chee​ shouldn’t be playing. Tom Lynch is carrying a little bit at the moment. All our markers on a few of our guys show we would be resting about six or seven of them. But we can’t so we just have to push on and get up for the next week.”

And the injury list continued with defender Sean Lemmens​ concussed after being on the end of a strong bump by Collingwood’s Jesse White. After Lemmens collided with White’s shoulder he was taken from the ground on a stretcher and remained off the ground for the remainder of the game.

And Eade told the media on Saturday that reports that Gold Coast were talking to West Australian champion Nat Fyfe were incorrect.

Reports are circulating that the Fremantle star will examine all his options when his contract ends at the end of next year.

“We’d be interested in any quality player. I’m 100 per cent certain that we have not spoken to Fremantle,” Eade said. “I don’t know for a fact, but list managers talk to player managers all over. Those conversations would be going on so I imagine something has been flown and unfortunately probably one of the managers has said that. It’s a fact of life.”

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Eagles and Hawks’ reaction to ruck losses part of the riddle

Rohan Connolly will be here blogging live from midday on Monday. Jump in now to leave your question early or come back at noon to join the conversation.
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It seems like every year for a long time we’ve continued to debate the importance or otherwise of ruckmen to modern football. Perhaps 2016 will be the season that settles the argument.

Certainly, in terms of that discussion, there’s been no more critical five minutes this season than the period during the third quarter at Domain Stadium on Friday night in which both West Coast’s Nic Naitanui and Hawthorn’s Jonathon Ceglar seriously injured knees.

The Eagles played arguably their best football of the season, but the mood in their rooms post-match when West Coast midfielder Matt Priddis was interviewed was sombre indeed, even before scans had confirmed Naitanui would require a reconstruction.

Ceglar, in contrast, might be a blip on the AFL profile radar compared to “Nic Nat”, but Hawthorn at least would instantly have been aware of the potential ramifications of his loss, too.

The critics haven’t held back on that front, either, several commentators immediately pronouncing both teams’ premiership aspirations finished off the back of the injuries.

A day later, almost rubbing it in for the Eagles and Hawks, Sydney were getting the job done against North Melbourne with Kurt Tippett back in harness after more than two months out with a hamstring injury. He made a pretty good fist of his ruck responsibilities with Sam Naismith, and his work up forward was good.

Here, also, was some interesting evidence for the ruck debate, the Swans’ ruck pair up against reigning All-Australian ruckman Todd Goldstein, and having the better of him in the hit-outs and, as a tandem, around the ground.

Goldstein hasn’t been nearly the same force since injuring his knee against Sydney first time around this season in round 10. Is it merely coincidence that the Roos have lost nine of their 12 games since that injury?

But then, if you’re looking for evidence that ruckmen don’t necessarily have to provide the answer to this season’s premiership puzzle, the Western Bulldogs are happy to help you out.

Their most technically adept ruckman, Will Minson, can’t even get a spot in the 22, playing just one game this season. Instead, the Dogs have gone essentially with pinch-hitters in Jordan Roughead and a combination of Tom Campbell and, more recently, Tom Boyd.

In pure hitout terms, the Dogs average fewer than all bar two other clubs. But the Dogs’ young goers have a capacity to physically grind down their ruck opponents and reduce their effectiveness. Testament to the strategy is clearance numbers which have the Bulldogs ranked No. 1 on the differentials.

So does the loss of Naitanui and Ceglar have to prove fatal for West Coast and Hawthorn? Interestingly, when West Coast were without Naitanui from rounds 13-19, they nevertheless won five of those six games. How good those wins were, however, is debatable.

They smashed stragglers Brisbane and Essendon, had an impressive home victory against North Melbourne, scraped home against Carlton and Melbourne, and lost to Collingwood.,

In every one of those games bar one, they lost both the hitouts and clearances. Intriguingly, the one exception was the Eagles winning the stoppages against Melbourne in round 18. Up against the AFL’s best in Max Gawn, West Coast, for the only time in that period, went with a double-pronged ruck set-up with Scott Lycett and Jonathan Giles.

The Eagles were only narrowly beaten for hitouts (44-46) and won the clearances (42-38). That may be a pointer to what is to come, with a potential pinch-hitter in Jeremy McGovern badly needed in defence, particularly this week against Adelaide’s forward height.

The longer-term indicators, though, aren’t good. West Coast were ranked No.1 for hitouts and fifth for clearances in 12 games before Naitanui hurt his Achilles, and 17th and 18th respectively when he was absent.

They’ve also depended heavily upon stoppage work for their scoring, ranked third in the AFL on differentials for scoring from clearances.

Ceglar and Hawthorn? Well, he and Ben McEvoy form not only a ruck pairing, but have also been important contributors up forward. Ceglar had booted 14 goals in his 19 games, and like McEvoy when off the ball, at the least help create a contest.

And yet, in that sense, the Hawks do at least have options in back-up ruckmen Jack Fitzpatrick, who has had four games back at VFL level after missing six weeks with concussion, and the far-less-experienced Marc Pittonet.

They also have another forward option in Ryan Schoenmakers, who has played two VFL games after returning from a groin injury. The Hawks could conceivably bring in both a ruckman and the forward.

And while lack of senior game time might be an issue, there’s at least some comfort in knowing that Hawthorn create the vast bulk of their scores from pressure turnovers rather than stoppage work, the Hawks ranking only 13th for scores from stoppages.

That’s a different approach to West Coast, whose modus operandi is different again from Sydney, Adelaide and the Shane Mumford-led ruck presence of Greater Western Sydney. All totally different from the Bulldogs, who continue to prosper despite in traditional ruck terms, not having a lot.

And it seems pretty likely that whichever team ends up prevailing this finals series will also go a long way to resolving the perennial ruck debate. Photo: Michael Dodge

So we’ve been denied that last round fight for a spot in the final eight, Melbourne failing to keep their end of the bargain, losing to Carlton and rendering North Melbourne safe. Like St Kilda, the Demons fall just short. Yet, in the cold light of day, like the Saints, missing out may actually have done Melbourne a favour. When you’ve been as deprived of finals action for as long as the Demons, falling into a spot in the eight can be viewed more favourably than perhaps it should. Who knows whether either club’s younger brigade might have sub-consciously been too satisfied with that minor achievement? Now, at least, there’s no false economy, and no excuse for either St Kilda or Melbourne not to attack next pre-season with everything.

THE RULE

Intent scrutiny: Umpires turned mind-readers during the St Kilda Richmond clash. Photo: Adam Trafford/AFL Media

There’s barely been a week this season that hasn’t featured either controversy or at least some spirited debate about the harsher interpretation of the deliberate out-of- bounds rule, umpires having to become mind-readers about players’ intent, players more than occasionally penalised simply because of a crooked bounce. There were several more examples at the weekend, and a good point, too, raised by Fox Footy commentator Brad Johnson at the Richmond-St Kilda game as a kick which could have been kept alive was allowed to dribble out in the hope of drawing a free kick. If the spirit of the rule is about keeping the ball in play, how is allowing it to cross the boundary line when there’s plenty of time to pick it up any less deliberate?

THE BANNER

Faint praise: David Mundy’s banner ‘celebrating’ his 250th game. Photo: Fremantle Dockers/Twitter

We know cheer squads love their clubs and work hard to offer them support. We know making the run-throughs takes time and effort. But to say Fremantle damned their captain David Mundy with faint praise on the occasion of his 250 th AFL game would be an understatement. “Well done David Mundy 250 solid games” might have been underselling the Dockers’ skipper a tad given he’s now behind only Matthew Pavlich on Freo’s all-time games list, leads the club, and is a best and fairest winner and an All-Australian. If that’s merely solid, Freo fans certainly have high expectations. It makes you wonder what Pavlich can expect in his farewell game next weekend. We hope it’s something a little more enthusiastic than his successor as captain got for a significant milestone.

THE SHOCKERS ​

Want-away forward Hayden Ballantyne looks on as coach Ross Lyon addresses the team. Photo: Paul Kane

While we’re on the subject of Freo, another week, another insipid performance. We’ve written it several times already, but even allowing for injuries, the Dockers’ 2016 has been little short of disgraceful. Let’s recap. From a preliminary final, to 10 successive losses, just three wins, and now another eight straight losses, the last four by a ridiculous average of 75 points. And again, Saturday’s pathetic 92-point belting at the hands of GWS featured a team containing 14 of those same players who lined up against Hawthorn last September for a spot in a grand final. Coach Ross Lyon can dress it up anyway he wants, but no team as well-performed as the Dockers were one season ago should be as hopeless as they are now.

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