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A national response to wildlife rescue is needed


A story from Australia, reflecting life in June 2020

WIRES, the country’s largest wildlife rescue organisation, said the devastating Black Summer bushfires took one of the greatest tolls on wildlife in Australian history. It is estimated that nearly three billion native animals could have been lost in the fires, and many more were harmed.

WIRES has been rescuing and caring for native animals for almost 35 years. WIRES has a dedicated Rescue Office operating 365 days a year, and 28 regional branches in NSW with approximately 3,000 volunteers involved in wildlife rescue, rehabilitation, information and education.

“No agency was well-prepared to handle the volume of requirements, for the duration of time, across the number of regions impacted,” said WIRES CEO, Leanne Taylor.  

“There were no formal plans or agreed processes in place to protect wildlife in the event of major emergencies, and the threats were so extreme for people and property that wildlife and wildlife habitat were not prioritised.” 

Ms Taylor said there is a need for a clear emergency plan to ensure prompt action is taken to assist injured wildlife as quickly as possible when required.

In the three months from January to March 2020, WIRES received over 86,000 calls, over 600,000 emails and over 3.6 million unique visitors to the WIRES website. During the emergency, WIRES worked with the NSW Department of Primary Industries to respond to requests for wildlife rescue.   

From the early stages of the bushfire season, the collaboration between members of the public and various volunteer organisations was extremely positive.

“The RFS App and Alert systems in NSW for residents and volunteers worked well,” Ms Taylor said.