Heartbreaking photos reveal wildlife trauma from WA bushfires

·News and Video Producer
·4-min read

Heartbreaking images reveal the impact bushfires are having on Western Australia’s wildlife.

Rescuers from WA Wildlife say they expect more injured animals to be brought into care over coming weeks as fire crews gain control of the situation.

While humans have so far escaped severe injury, some burnt wildlife is already being treated by veterinary teams.

Blossom the brushtail possum asleep and under a towel, receiving care.
Blossom the brushtail possum is receiving treatment for her burns. Source: WA Wildlife

Two possums and a raven were rushed in to care with Wildlife WA on Boxing Day as fires scorched parts of Armadale, 30km south of Perth's CBD.

Blossom the possum rescued from the bushfires

The most badly burnt of the three was a female brushtail which carers have named Blossom.

While it’s rare for volunteers at WA Wildlife to name the animals they treat, the group’s director of operations Dean Huxley said an exception was made because she has “traumatic injuries".

"It’s expected she’ll be with the team for a long time as her burns heal," he told Yahoo News. 

A firefighter tackles with the Chidlow and Wooroloo bushfire seen behind them.
A firefighter tackles the Chidlow and Wooroloo bushfire. Source: AAP

Photos show Blossom hooked up to an IV at WA Wildlife Hospital where she is receiving around the clock veterinary treatment, including assisted feeding, pain relief, and daily dressing changes.

“It’s quite a lot of work as you can imagine, if it was a human in hospital from burns it would be a similar process,” he said.

“Obviously with possums they don’t want to be in care because they stress, but in the hospital we can manage that along with their pain.”

Climate change worsening bushfires in Western Australia

On Monday, Emergency WA issued fire warnings around the fringes of Perth, and by the next morning there were nine bushfire advices listed across the state for towns including Margaret River, Pink Lake and Port Hedland.

The blazes followed soaring temperatures in the capital of up to 43 degrees on the weekend, coupled with intense winds; conditions which the state’s premier Mark McGowan described as “unforgiving”.

"It's an anxious time for people caught up in the emergency," he said on Monday.

"Especially given last year's bushfire catastrophe, that destroyed 86 (homes)."

In recent years, bushfire conditions have worsened in line with global heating caused by the climate crisis.

A 13-year veteran wildlife worker, Mr Huxley said it was once rare to be inundated with burnt animals, but conditions have changed.

“The last two or three years, we're just getting so many animals coming in, and we just didn’t see that a decade ago,” he said.

“You'd get that little fire pop up and you might get one animal, but it's actually really common now for us to get lots of bushfire victims coming in.

“Every bushfire season now we’ve got our fingers crossed nothing too bad is going to happen, because we're not sure if we’re going to have the capacity to deal with it.”

How to find help for wildlife affected by WA bushfires

To try and combat worsening conditions WA Wildlife have developed a portal to help wildlife groups share resources across the state.

Left - Blossom the possum in care. Right - the raven in care.
Two possums and a raven were brought into care. Source: WA Wildlife

As extreme weather creates tougher situations for both wildlife and rescuers, the association has joined the Committee for Animal Welfare in Emergencies, a government driven support plan which helps coordinate wildlife rescues.

They are also developing wildlife specific veterinary training modules with conservation charity WWF-Australia which focus on emergencies like bushfires and disease outbreaks.

People living close to bushfire-affected zones are encouraged to play a part in assisting dehydrated animals fleeing the fires, by leaving out fresh water.

Anyone who sees an injured animal or bird can pick it up in a towel, or with gloves and place it in a box or pet carrier if it’s safe to do so.

Free wildlife assistance can be found through WA Wildlife on 08 9417 7105, or the Murdoch Pet Emergency Centre on 1300 652 494.

with AAP

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