The Department of Environment Land Water and Planning (DELWP) is the lead agency for managing wildlife welfare arising from bushfire. We are currently responding to wildlife welfare issues as a result of the current fires.
To keep the community informed of our response to the impacts of the fires on wildlife, we will be updating this page regularly as our response is rolled out.
DELWP is coordinating on-ground wildlife assessments in conjunction with other agencies in areas where the fireground is safe to access.
Managing the welfare of fire-affected wildlife to reduce pain and suffering is a priority. DELWP has deployed Wildlife Triage Units to assess and treat animals affected by the fires. This includes support from the RSPCA’s Mobile Animal Clinic, Zoos Victoria, Wildlife Victoria and the Australian Veterinary Association.
Each Wildlife Triage Unit is staffed by a site manager, a veterinarian and vet nurse. Their priority is to assess fire-affected wildlife, treat where possible and release or move to a wildlife shelter for longer-term care and rehabilitation.
Wildlife Triage Units are currently operating 9am - 6pm at the following locations:
The Triage unit located in Corryong has now closed. If you see injured wildlife in the Corryong area, please contact the local DELWP Wildlife Coordinator on 1300 322061.
Additional Wildlife Triage Units will be deployed across Victoria in response to demand, based on advice from by the local Incident Control Centres (ICC).
DELWP is in regular contact with a range of volunteer and non-government organisations to coordinate the placement of animals with wildlife shelters and carers as required.
Wildlife Assessment Teams are providing additional support on the ground working out of Bairnsdale, Mallacoota, Corryong and the Budj Bim fire complex in South West Victoria.
Access and safety in and around fire-affected areas
- Firegrounds are considered dangerous and access to these areas is restricted.
- Even after a fire has passed, fire-affected tree post a very high risk to human safety.
- DELWP has qualified Wildlife Assessment Teams working in fire-affected areas to undertake wildlife assessment.
- Be careful in areas around the fireground and access to roads may vary based on local weather conditions.
For current fire warnings and emergency information visit Vic Emergency
For the latest information on road closures in fire-affected areas visit VicRoads
Reporting injured wildlife
If you see wildlife that appears to be injured or distressed as a result of the fire, please contact your local DELWP office or the DELWP Customer Service Centre on 136 186. For other injured wildlife reports, please call Wildlife Victoria on 03 8400 7300.
Please take care if you attempt to help injured or distressed animals. Please be aware that improper capture and handling techniques can cause further distress or injury to the animal, and put the rescuer at risk.
Response to social media concerns regarding the euthanasia of fire affected pouch young
Recent allegations that regulations exist to euthanise all surviving wildlife are incorrect. The current Wildlife Shelter and Foster Carer Authorisation Guide states that ‘wildlife experiencing unreasonable and/or incurable pain, distress, trauma, sickness or injury; or marsupials that are un-furred with eyes closed and ears down should be euthanised.’ Our preference, where possible, will always be to rehabilitate wildlife in the first instance, however, we must acknowledge that in some cases, the most humane option to avoid prolonged suffering of individual animals is euthanasia.
This is about the welfare of the animal – and we will not unnecessarily prolong pain or suffering of animals. Our approach to caring for our wildlife has been developed in consultation with wildlife veterinary experts.
What you can do to help
- If you see wildlife resting in your garden, you should keep people and pets away to allow the animal to rest, recover or move through the landscape.
- To help wildlife around your home, leave out shallow bowls of water that wildlife can access – make sure to add some rocks or sticks in the bowl to allow smaller animals to escape should they fall in.
- If you have a swimming pool and live near a fire-affected, wildlife may seek water or refuge in your pool. Drape something over the edge of the pool so that animals can climb out should they fall in. Check your pool and the skimmer box regularly for any trapped animals
- A number of organisations have indicated that they are overwhelmed by the donation of items including towels and knitted goods. The best way of contributing to support fire-affected wildlife is to donate to the Zoos Victoria Bushfire Emergency Wildlife Fund. 100% of funds raised will be used to support bushfire impacted wildlife.
Page last updated: 28/01/20