“Thursday’s meeting was an important chance to identify and prioritise actions resulting from the bushfires.”
Ms Ley said the $3 million would be divided between helping wildlife carers and animal hospitals on the front line and rapidly mapping known koala habitats.
A spokesman for Ms Ley said the following priorities were identified:
- Rapid mapping of the impact on known koala habitats to identify areas where healthy koala populations remain
- Recognising remaining koala habitats and populations as significant environmental assets, and developing management strategies for their protection
- Identifying corridors to link habitats in northern NSW and southern Queensland
- Addressing a range of threats to koala habitats, including fragmentation, degradation and the effects of fire
An additional $3 million will be split between the RSPCA’s animal hospital at Wacol in Brisbane, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, and Australia Zoo’s wildlife hospital.
On Monday, the RSPCA reported since the recent bushfires began, 43 animals, including 29 koalas, had been taken into its centres with fire-related injuries. Twelve of those koalas were brought into the RSPCA’s Wacol animal hospital last Sunday alone.
Survivors were still being found at Toowoomba, Jimna and Mount Barney.
At the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital – which receives animals from the northern Gold Coast down to northern New South Wales – vet Dr Michael Pyne said an extra 300 animals per month had been brought to the Gold Coast clinic because of the bushfires.
“At this time of year, we would expect to see around 1100 or 1200 patients,” Dr Pyne said.
“But we will hit over 1500 animals in November.
“We are seeing more than 50 patients a day; I mean, yesterday we saw 70 patients.”
Dr Pyne said while the bushfires were devastating, the extended dry weather that amplified them was having an even bigger impact on animals.
He said for every one burn victim, 10 other animals were coming in for dehydration and starvation.
“We are getting more koalas and other animals coming in that are just struggling because there is no food and there is no water out there,” he said.
“We are getting koalas coming in that have nothing wrong with them other than they are starving and dehydrated.
“That is just not something that we have seen in the past.”
Dr Pyne welcomed the additional funding but said once it went to a range of services on the frontline, it would disappear quickly.
Tony Moore is a senior reporter at the Brisbane Times