Wildlife Rescue - AustraliaAustralia has one of the highest mammal extinction rates in the world
Floods and bushfires continue to ravage the country, displacing thousands of humans and animals alike. Many of these disasters can occur in a very short period of time, giving those affected much less time to prepare and evacuate. The number of 'billion dollar' natural disasters has nearly doubled over the past quarter century, with climate change exacerbating the rate and magnitude of such catastrophes.
Animals are critical to human society culturally, economically, and psychologically—their safety and wellbeing must be a key consideration in disaster response planning at all levels of community and government in the Australia. According to Shannon Walajtys, IFAW Program Director for Disaster Response and Risk Reduction, “Whether through rehabilitating injured animals, reintroducing wildlife back into its natural environment, or reuniting families with their companion animals, IFAW works to return a sense of normalcy and hope to both human and animal communities that suddenly find themselves in upheaval as a result of a natural disaster.”
As we enter the next Australian bushfire season, it is vital we understand how to prepare for disasters that could strike at any time. Being prepared saves lives, which is why IFAW has created a preparedness checklist for wildlife and pets under the care of people.
Create a disaster response plan for animals in your care
- Write Down an Emergency Plan with Your Family: Include your pets and wildlife in your care when you make your plan. Identify and list temporary placement facilities and carers for your animals. These would be people and places with the capacity and skills to take care of the wild animal(s) during an emergency. If you have pets, identify pet-friendly options for shelter: hotels, family or friends’ houses or evacuation centers. Share your plan with neighbours and friends. Designate a friend who can get your animals out if you should happen to be separated from them during a disaster and not allowed back into your community.
- Keep Proper Identification of Your Animals: Make sure animal carriers have an ID tag to avoid your animals getting lost during an evacuation. For pets, invest in a collar with your pet’s name and your contact number, have their vaccination records handy and a photo of you and your pet together. And even better, in addition to a collar and tag, have your pet microchipped and keep their registration updated. Keep a sticker on your home’s door or window indicating the number and types of pets you have and/or the number and species of wildlife in your care.
- Prepare an Emergency Go-Bag for Your Animals: Pack an emergency kit or backpack with supplies for at least two weeks that includes ample food and water. Other items for consideration include a collapsible feeding bowl, towels and blankets for bedding, medications and a first aid kit with basic supplies (such as bandages, scissors, tweezers and antiseptic cream to treat wounds and burns), medical records and a carrier or crate.
- Evacuate with Your Pets and Animals in Your Care: During a disaster, if it is not safe for you, it is not safe for your pets and wildlife in your care. If you cannot safely evacuate your animals, take action to protect yourself and your family but never leave an animal behind chained or caged! By letting them free, you allow them to escape and seek shelter. During extreme weather, always monitor local weather and emergency services for updates on local conditions and advice. Make sure you know when to activate your evacuation plan and that you and your animals are prepared to evacuate well before you need to be.
Preparing ahead of time ensures a swifter transition to safe environments during a crisis. You will be grateful you did it and so will the animals you committed to care for.