Peggy Hentz, rehabilitator and founder of Red Creek Wildlife Center in Schuylkill Haven, said wildlife rehabilitators in Australia are overwhelmed with the volume of handmade items people have been sending to them and have kindly asked the public to stop.

Instead, she said rehabilitators across the state can use the excess knitted bird nests and crocheted wrap pouches that were intended for Australia’s wild animals displaced by wildfires. Baby mammals and birds here can use the hand-crafted pieces during their recovery.

Experts estimate nearly half a billion animals have died in the Australian wildfires since September, according to the Associated Press and Times-Shamrock Communications archives. The death toll in Australia has reached at least 27, as of Sunday; more than 2,000 homes were destroyed; and the fire has scorched an area larger than the U.S. state of Indiana, according to published reports.

“For us, and for any rehabilitation center around the world, what they need most is money. Then they can buy what they need,” said Hentz, who also serves on the Pennsylvania Wildlife Rehabilitation & Education Council.

“I’m on the council and we can network,” she said of distributing any of the items to where they are needed.

Well-meaning crafters have knitted and crocheted a surplus of substitute nests and pouches for the Australian animals whose habitat has been destroyed, and are now seeking safety in rehabilitation centers or shelters.

Contributors can message Red Creek on Facebook or contact Hentz at the center, so the items can be distributed to state rehabilitators where they can be put to use.

Social media sites have been filled with people expressing their concern about the Australian wildfires, she said. “People have been wonderful about donating to wildlife rehabilitators,” Hentz said.

Red Creek has received Facebook inquiries about the donations, according to Hentz. She shared a sample of them below:

• “Can you use crocheted bird nests, bat wraps, marsupial bags (possum use)? Living in Florida now, and a few groups that were making for Australia are now looking to donate within US and I was going to submit your organization if you could use them.”

• “Hello. I’m a part of making crafts for rescues in the states. We have been told that we are on a hold and at this time. We are directed to see if our rescue centers in the states would like us to send them our donations already made (pouches, nests, blankets, bird boxes and more). Can you use items like this for the animals at your center or know other centers that would? Also does your center have a wish list that I could share to help?”

• “I was making nests to send to Australia but they put a halt on shipping right now. Could you use them? They’re crocheted in different sizes.”

Red Creek, meanwhile, launched its own fundraising campaign last year to construct a new clinic building at its 300 Moon Hill Drive location. To date, $177,193 has been raised toward its $220,000 goal. Today, the Schuylkill Haven nonprofit facility admits about 4,000 animals annually, according to Hentz.

Anyone wanting to learn more about the work of animal rehabilitators in the state can visit the website for the Pennsylvania Association of Wildlife Rehabilitators,

To make a contribution, contact Hentz at Red Creek Wildlife Center at 570-739-7111 for the office; and 570-739-4393 for the clinic; or mail a check or care package to: Red Creek Wildlife Center, 300 Moon Hill Drive, Schuylkill Haven, PA, 17972.

Contact the writer: 570-628-6007