01 Jun Rescue and recovery from the fires
The bushfire crisis has filled the news with stories of courageous koala rescues and miraculous survivors. But this is only part of the story – spare a thought for the thousands of animals left homeless and starving. This is the story of Wildcare supporting the Tallaganda bushfire survivors.
Wildcare Queanbeyan covers a large geographic area of 22,000 km². We had our first emergency response in February 2017, with the Carwoola bushfire. This was a grass fire in a rural residential area that destroyed 11 homes and burnt out 3,500 ha of grassland. The Wildcare President at the time stated that it was the “biggest emergency response effort by Wildcare” – consisting of rescue activities and eight months of support feeding.
Sadly, Wildcare had experience with bushfires. When the Tallaganda National Park was hit with fire on 27 November 2019, we jumped into action. We were thankful to receive the grant from Backyard Buddies as we were aware of the effort and expense that would be involved in an emergency response for a bushfire.
In preparation for our emergency response, we provided fire ground training for 35 members to enable rescue activities in the fire ground. We also purchased a range of rescue supplies including; backpacks, two-way radios, hard hats, and googles.
Concurrently, Wildcare was undertaking recovery activities. This primarily consisted of support feeding for animals that had survived the blaze. Sadly, the Tallaganda fire continued to burn – it was ten weeks before this fire was extinguished. And, there were few animals left to be saved.
Early February the Wildcare area was hit again with fire – the Calabash Fire Trail destroying 4,634 ha and the Clear Range Fire destroying 12,458 ha. Each of these fires was brought under control quickly and this time, we were able to undertake rescues.
With the support of Backyard Buddies, we were able to establish our rescue and recovery efforts equipment. Six months after the fires and the devastations – our work continued. Based on calculations of feed drops we have saved 500 – 700 animals from starvation. And, we continue.