Helping Western Australian vets to treat burnt wildlife

A tiny pygmy possum, injured in Australian wildfires, takes water from an IFAW Emergency Responder. © IFAW/Chris OrdWith bushfire season looming it’s essential that we are all prepared. We need to have a plan for our family and our pets. But who will look after wildlife in a fire?

Sadly, when it comes to fire response, wildlife is often the last on the list, if it’s on there at all. But, although human life has to come first, we as human beings have a duty and a responsibility to look after wild animals too. 

Although most animals either escape or perish during a fire, some can survive. Kangaroos, koalas, possums, echidnas and reptiles are often burned, starving or suffering from smoke inhalation and need urgent and specialised veterinary treatment.

Read how fire responders save animals: Kola Richardson Jane’s rescue and release

So, to help vets be prepared to treat burnt wildlife, IFAW hosted a workshop with Dr Anne Fowler at the WA AVA veterinary conference in Fremantle

Over 60 people attended - a mix of vets, vet nurses and wildlife rescuers which is great as disaster response is a collective effort. There were also some other attendees who noticeably didn’t take any notes (six kangaroo joeys and a baby Woylie who had to be hand-fed by wildlife rescuers during the breaks).

A kangaroo joey being fed during the fire responder workshop break.

Anne, who has worked with wildlife in many fires, including Black Saturday, showed people how to assess and treat different animals– wildlife, pets and livestock.  She also explained how veterinary treatment is often only part of the mix – in a disaster, you are part of a team and need to know how emergency response crews operate, your role on a fire-ground – and most importantly how to look after yourself to avoid burn out and stress.

So that’s 60 more people in WA that are now trained- up in how to treat burnt animals. Hopefully, they won’t need to but, if it comes to it, they will be prepared.

--JS

For more information about IFAW’s animal rescue work, visit our program page.

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