Help For Animals Affected By Bushfires
Help for Livestock
Department of Primary Industries
The Department of Primary Industries (DPI) provides assistance to farmers/landowners affected by bushfires by providing assistance to assess, and if necessary euthanase, bushfire affected livestock and in accessing assistance and advice from a number of organisations available to help.
Farmers needing urgent assistance assessing burnt livestock should call the DPI Customer Service Centre on 136 186. DPI veterinary officers will respond promptly and contact such farmers with practical help and advice. In areas not yet declared safe, farmers may need to use their own resources or local networks to ensure the welfare of their animals.
Farmers have three major options:
- Destroy immediately - if the animal is down, unable to walk, has excessive burns, swelling of limbs or difficulty breathing.
- Keep and nurse - if the animal is mobile and alert or has burns to less than 10% of its body. These animals will need shade, water, feed, daily inspection and veterinary advice and treatment. They will also need constant reassessment.
- No apparent damage - Livestock will still need shade, water and feed and they will also need to be reassessed.
Livestock at risk of impending fire should, where possible, be moved to safer areas such as recently cultivated paddocks, bared-out or irrigated paddocks or stockyards with bare or ploughed surrounds. Horses should have halters, fly-veils and anything else that can burn them removed. Livestock should not be let out onto public roads.
Further information is provided in the following Information Notes:
Livestock and your bushfire preparation plan:
- Assessing Sheep after a Bushfire
- Assessing Cattle after a Bushfire
- Disposing of Carcases in response to bushfire
For information on pets and fires please refer to the information provided in the following Information Note:
Lost and Found
Dogs and Cats
Dogs and cats that have been lost during a bushfire may have been found by people dealing with the fires or members of the public, these animals should be handed to the local council who can ensure the animals are properly housed at your local Council animal pound and provide a central point for contact for those searching for a missing pet.
You can find your local Council's details on the Local Government website.
People that have lost pets and people that have found pets need to contact their local Councils to notify of the animal they have either lost or found to create the best opportunity of reuniting pets and owners.
Animals implanted with microchips will be scanned by Councils and also by veterinarians and shelters. If your pet is microchipped contact your Registry to ensure they have accurate details and so that the Registry or Council can contact you if your animal has been found.
Alternatively, if you have found an animal it is vital it gets scanned for a microchip so it can be reunited with its owner. Contact your Council to organise scanning of found pet.
Livestock and Horses
If after a bushfire you have found livestock or horses wandering or have these animals confined on your property you need to contact Council to advise them of the status and location of these animals. If you have them confined you can organise with the Council to have the animals inspected for microchips or other forms of identification in order to reunite the animals with their owners.
If after a bushfire you have lost any other type of animal or found one, again contact your local Council to register the status of the animal and for advice on locations where found animals are being housed or to report that you have lost your animals.
Department of Sustainability and Environment
Please call the DSE Customer Service Centre on 136 186 for your nearest wildlife shelter and advice on fire affected or displaced wildlife.
The following wildlife welfare organisations can also assist:
24 hour hotline - 1300 094 535
Wildlife Victoria website
Help for Wildlife
24 hour emergency service - 0417 380 687
Help for Wildlife website
Wildlife Rescue and Information Network
24 hour emergency hotline - 0419 356 433
WRIN website (external link)
Wildlife Rescue Emergency Service
24 hour service - 0427 301 401
BADGAR Emergency Wildlife and Rescue
24 hour wildlife rescue - 1300 223 427
Australian Wildlife Assistance Rescue and Education
Rescue Hotline - 0412 422 727
Oakleigh-Springvale and Dandenong-Cranbourne region
Healesville Sanctuary Australian Wildlife Health Centre can assist in the case of injured. ph 5957 2829 RACV Wildlife connect on 131111.
RACV will connect you to one of the established 24-hour volunteer wildlife rescue networks in your area.
Questions and Answers about native wildlife affected by fires
1. I have found an injured native animal suffering burns. What do I do?
When dealing with injured or orphaned wildlife after wildfires, it is important not to frighten them. All wild animals should be treated with caution, especially when they are distressed and injured. Untrained members of the public should only tend to those animals that are severely injured or unlikely to be able to care for themselves. Wild animals that may bite, or are otherwise dangerous (e.g. venomous snakes), should only be handled by trained wildlife carers or handlers.
If the animal is small:
- Place it in a pillow case or cloth bag.
- Place this in a box a little larger than the animal.
- Place the box in a shady'/cool place.
- Contact a wildlife shelter and arrangements will be made to collect the animal.
Do not try to feed or give the animal a drink - discuss this with the wildlife carer when contact has been made. The wildlife carer may wish to do this once an assessment of the animal has been made.
If the animal is large:
- Keep clear of the animal and attempt to leave it undisturbed (i.e. keep pets away and unnecessary vehicle traffic).
- Note its location and apparent difficulty.
- Contact a wildlife shelter and describe the situation. The carer will then offer advice on how to proceed.
2. I'd like to assist in helping orphaned or injured wildlife. What can I do?
Untrained members of the public should only provide initial care to injured wildlife. Ideally, they should take the animal as quickly as possible to a qualified vet or carer. The long-term care and rehabilitation of native animals is best done by experts. In line with Victorian law, you need to be a licensed and trained carer to rehabilitate wildlife. You may best assist by providing financial support to wildlife welfare organisations which need medicines and equipment.
3. Can I destroy suffering wildlife affected by fire?
All wildlife is protected. However, where animals are so badly injured that they cannot be successfully rehabilitated, it is appropriate to humanely destroy them provided it is safe to do so and it is carried out in a humane and decisive manner. If you are a licensed firearm user you must be exceedingly careful in using firearms. You must not discharge a firearm in a populous place, from or on roads, or on or across private property without the permission of the owner or occupier. Any vet who assesses an animal as unfit for treatment and rehabilitation may euthanase affected wildlife without the need for a permit.
4. What else can I do to protect animals affected by fire?
- Lock up domestic animals (e.g. cats, dogs) to stop them preying on or harassing native wildlife.
- Provide water for wildlife. Place a stick or rock in the container to prevent animals from being trapped or drowning in deep containers.
- Drive carefully through burnt out areas to protect remaining wildlife.
- Refrain from providing hay for feed for wildlife in burned bushland to reduce the spread of weeds and the subsequent degradation of wildlife habitat. In non-natural areas it may be possible to provide food for distressed wildlife, however this should be done in consultation with wildlife care agencies to ensure that foods are as close to a natural diet as possible. Wildlife should not be attracted to areas where they may be vulnerable to predation by foxes and domestic pets.
6. When can I go into an area to search for injured wildlife?
You must not enter fire affected areas unless you are trained and under the supervision of fire authorities.