Australian Wildfires -losses challenge and remind us all to be ready

0_21_021109_koalaWildfire season is devasting large areas in Australia. Thousands of animals have died , hundreds of people have perished and loss of property and way of life is growing.

Sam the koala, who has become one of the poster children for the fire rescue efforts, is being treated at the Mountain Ash Wildlife Shelter in Rawson, 100 miles east of Melbourne, where she has attracted the attention of a male koala, nicknamed “Bob,” manager Coleen Wood said. The two have been inseparable, with Bob keeping a protective watch over his new friend, she said.

Meanwhile, workers at the shelter were scrambling to salve the wounds of possums, kangaroos, lizards “everything and anything,” Wood said.

“We had a turtle come through that was just about melted — still alive,” Wood said. “The whole thing was just fused together …from the intensity of the fire in the area.” Hundreds of burned, stressed and dehydrated animals including kangaroos, koalas, lizards and birds have already arrived at shelters across the scorched region. Rescuers have doled out antibiotics, pain relievers and fluids to the critters in a bid to keep them comfortable, but some of the severely injured were euthanized to spare any more suffering.

The animals arriving appear stressed, but generally seem to understand the veterinarians are trying to help them, Wood said. Kangaroos and koalas are widespread in Australia and are not particularly scared of humans.

Volunteers from the animal welfare group Victorian Advocates for Animals filled 10 giant bins with 2,300 dead grey-headed flying foxes that succumbed to heat stroke Saturday, said Lawrence Pope, the group’s president. Volunteers tried to save some of the bats by giving them fluids and keeping them cool, Pope said, but the creatures were simply too stressed, dehydrated and perished.

You can help get ready for fire season by following the guidelines set out by emergency services in your area and taking training to help in case of a crisis. In the USA Red Cross, the Human Society and Femma train and coordinate volunteers. Helping hands can be skilled as a veterinarian, emergency and fire rescuers or animal shelter trained and individuals willing to provide food of the proper kind to animals traumatized by the natural disaster.

Ways to help in a crisis

1. Attend a volunteer training program in your area and become a trained as a rescuerer or care giver.
Then you would be in a position to actively assist injured wildlife in the most direct way.
It is important for people who live near areas where fires have gone through to remember:
_ Keep cats indoors and dogs under control wherever possible
_ Leave bowls of water out for animals and birds escaping the fires
_ Keep a cardboard box and towel in the boot of their car in case you find an injured animal

_ If you rescue an animal that has been burnt, wrap it loosely, place it in a cardboard box, keep it in a dark, quiet and warm place
_ Call a local vet or rescue center for assistance as soon as possible
_ Make water available
_ Do not try to feed the animal
_ Do not leave food out in the national parks for the wildlife

To help the Australian Wildlife Rescue Effort

Please remember WIRES is a registered charity and relies upon the generosity of the public to continue
our work. Donations $2 and over are tax deductible.
Further information is available on request from WIRES Head Office
WIRES PO Box 260 Forestville NSW 2087
Tel: 02 8977 3333 Fax: 02 8977 3399


Excerpts from

Excerpts and Image courtesy of Fox story/0,2933,491050,00


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