Wildlife groups flag concerns ahead of bushfire season

With a hot dry summer predicted, animal welfare organisations in NSW have warned that the risk to animals from bushfires has not been mitigated since the 2019 Black Summer fires.
A report by the World Wildlife Foundation (WWF), released in April 2022, estimated that some three billion animals were killed or displaced by the fires, with more than 29 million acres of forest and woodlands burnt.
The inquiry into the fires recommended that wildlife rescue be better integrated into overall emergency response plans; however, both WIRES and the NSW Wildlife Council have flagged that that a new policy has so far not been implemented.
In September this year, the first National Disaster Preparedness Summit was held, but no wildlife groups were represented.
“I’m absolutely disgusted. It is absolutely appalling. Billions, millions of animals … we’ll never know how many died, and the wildlife volunteer groups, nobody got invited to that conference,” Audrey Koosmen, chair of the NSW Wildlife Council said.
Veterinarians played a large roll in assisting wildlife during the Black Summer fires, with Vets Beyond Borders (VBB) helping to deploy veterinarians and veterinarian nurses who contributed more than 400 days of profession time through VBB’s Australian Veterinarian Emergency Response Team (AVERT).
The sector is once again preparing itself for the coming bushfire season, with Taronga Zoo helping provide 80,000 firefighters with frontline skills to assess and capture wildlife for treatment, while already having trained nearly 500 vets in specialised care for bushfire-affected animals.

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