Potentially millions of animals lost in bushfires
FOLLOWING devastating bushfires across the region, the North Coast Environmental Council is calling for urgent assistance for wildlife.
President Jim Morrison said there needs to be an urgent review of response and protocols for wildlife rescue following recent bushfires near Drake and Rappville.
"Over the last month we have seen hundreds of thousands of hectares of forest burnt, potentially millions of animals have died and there are hundreds, if not thousands that have either been injured or are now suffering starvation or dying of thirst," Mr Morrison said.
"Our unique wildlife is an important national asset. We should be treating it as such."
Mr Morrison said human infrastructure, such as plantations, are counted as assets and extraordinary effort and resources goes into protecting and saving them.
"We applaud the efforts of those on the front line, particularly the volunteers, doing this important work," he said.
"But koalas, gliders, owls and the whole suite of native animals need to also be considered as assets and we need to have protocols and strategies in place for protecting and rescuing them, and those protocols and strategies need to be implemented and resourced."
Mr Morrison said a prime example for his cause is the koala populations of Braemar, Carwong and Royal Camp State Forests.
He said these sites were recently recognised as a stronghold for koalas with an estimated koala population of several hundred. Soon after, the area was hit by the Busbys Flat Road bushfire, which has burned through more than 50,000 hectares.
"No doubt many of the koalas perished in the fire. Some will have been burnt or injured in other ways and in urgent need of veterinary attention," Mr Morrison said.
"There will hopefully be others who have survived physically unscathed but are now desperate for food and water.
"The longer it takes for people to be allowed in to the area, the more likely it is koalas will die.
Mr Morrison said this situation is replicated right across the region with "many tens of thousands of hectares at risk from current fires and a catastrophic fire season ahead".
"We recognise that safety is a primary consideration, but surely there are methods and equipment that can be deployed to find and save injured wildlife," he said.
"Cameras, training for RFS crews in animal rescue, putting out drinking troughs are only a few ideas.
"If we collectively cared enough to develop the tools we could make a difference."