Snowy Mountains LAOKO helping injured wildife

A number of large bush fires are still burning in the Snowy Mountains and the Kosciusko National Park, and the community want to help affected wildlife.

A swamp wallaby surveys its home after the Werri Berri fire passed through near Bega. (Photo: Donna Armstrong)

A swamp wallaby surveys its home after the Werri Berri fire passed through near Bega. (Photo: Donna Armstrong)

Eleven fires are burning out of control in the Snowy Monaro Regional Council area and Kosciusko National Park and have burnt out an area of about 334,520 hectares, as of January 7.

Local wildlife group president Brendan Diacono said members of the public are saddened by the impact on wildlife and advised people who see burnt or injured wildlife affected by the fires to call the Animal Services hotline on 1800 814 647.

The hotline is directed to the lead agency handling all animal welfare issues for livestock and domestic animals and wildlife and is called the Animal Services Functional Area (ASFA).

ASFA incorporates a number of government agencies and organisations including the Department of Primary Industries, Department of Agriculture, South East Local Land Services, the RSPCA, and other government and non-government agencies.

Diacono said LAOKO is working closely with ASFA and greatly appreciates its support.

"ASFA have the resources to help and can enter the fire ground, so it is best to ring the hotline number first or call LAOKO on the usual emergency help line: 6456 1313.

"People will be directed to the Incident Control team based in Cooma, where there are lots of veterinarians and other personnel based in Cooma at the moment who can go and assess the animals and provide the assistance required," Diacono said.

"LAOKO will be notified if the animal's injuries are treatable and LAOKO will take over the treatment and rehabilitation and ultimately the release of the animal," he said.

He added that if the animal is too severely burnt, the veterinarian will make the decision to euthanise it humanely rather than let it suffer.

"LAOKO is very grateful for the offers of help for wildlife affected by the bush fires in our region and donations are coming in thick and fast. We thank people for their kindness and compassion," he said.

Diacono said that LAOKO has also been receiving many calls and messages on the LAOKO Facebook page and community notice boards asking when LAOKO will go into the fire areas to look for injured animals and rescue them.

"At the moment it is too dangerous for LAOKO volunteers to go onto the fire ground yet and we have been instructed not to enter the fire ground until instructed to do so. There are very real dangers from the threat of falling trees and branches and other dangerous situations that exist on the fire ground."

Diacono also wanted to remind people that many roads are closed near the fire grounds and like other road users, LAOKO volunteers are asked not be in the area.

Financial donations will greatly assist in the recovery phase, where volunteers will be providing feed and water for wildlife over many months after the threat of the fires is over.

Countless animals have perished in the fires with an estimated 480 million native animals affected since bushfires in NSW started in September 2019.

This figure is a conservative one outlined in a report co-authored by Professor Chris Dickman at the University of Sydney and only relates to NSW. The figure includes mammals, birds and reptiles but does not include insects, bats or frogs. The real number of native animals that have perished is likely to be much higher than 480 million.

While most wildlife is most likely to have been killed directly by the fires, with others succumbing later due to the lack of food and shelter and predation from feral cats and foxes.

Diacono said food and water will be provided for wildlife once the fires have passed which will be mostly on private property.

"If there are landholders out there on the edge of the fires who would like to provide support to wildlife after the fires, we would like to hear from them. Also if people would like to help with the recovery phase, also please email your details to LAOKO and go to the website to complete a membership form so you are covered by our insurance."

"LAOKO will need helpers to store and distribute food and water over the coming months and if people can help with this they can email LAOKO at laokosmwr@gmail.com with their details.

Donations can be made via the website: laokosmwr.org or direct deposit: Account name: LAOKO Inc. BSB 012 575 Account 526 905 437.

Donations will be used to provide treatment, rehabilitation and food and shelter support to wildlife affected by the fires.

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