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Help for wildlife injured in fires
Bushfire has devastating effects on wildlife − anyone who lives close to a fireground will have seen wildlife trying to escape the flames.
By Darlene Pentland
Every year, untold numbers of native animals perish during a fire, and many more succumb after the incident to injuries caused by fire, smoke inhalation, dehydration and starvation. Sadly, firefighters are often firsthand witnesses to the impacts fire has on paws, tails, feathers and fur.
Whenever firefighting crews report injured animals on the fireground, a process is activated to help search for and rescue the wildlife. These procedures also kick in if local knowledge suggests that wildlife may be impacted by fire. Under the Protocols for volunteers involved in Wildlife Rescue Operations guidelines, wildlife rescue teams are deployed on to the fireground to find, treat and release or relocate injured animals to shelters.
These protocols operate within the Australasian Inter-Service Incident Management System (AIIMS) and ensure that fire agencies, wildlife organisations and wildlife rescuers work together in a safe and coordinated way during incidents. When activated by the incident controller, the protocols give fire agency staff access to a statewide network of around 1,500 accredited wildlife rescuers.
Many CFA members support the work of wildlife organisations or are registered wildlife rescuers and carers. During and after the recent fires around Gisborne, District 14 staff raised money to supply much-needed antibiotics and other medicines to Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network carers. They also provided and delivered feed to the fireground for several months following the incident.
CFA member Fiona Mallia helps deliver feed to animals on the fireground. “Those who volunteer to rescue and care for our native wildlife are in effect their guardians,” she said. “This work empowers me to ensure they have a voice.”
After fires, injured wildlife often move on to farms, properties and along roadsides looking for food, water or shelter. If you come across injured or orphaned wildlife, call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 for emergency response and care.
Photo: Fiona Mallia, who works at District 14 Headquarters, also delivers feed to the fireground
Photo by Lauren Mallia