As NSW again approaches bushfire season, many have vivid recollections, and others are still grappling with the devastation from the 2019/20 summer bushfire carnage. It is important that we reflect on what we know and lessons learned as we recover.
Animal Liberation Regional Campaigns Coordinator Lisa Ryan said that we know that evidenced reports have now confirmed Australia lost around three billion non-human animals directly and indirectly from the fires; many were already classified as vulnerable, threatened or endangered. ‘More recent surveys have confirmed up to 70 per cent of NSW koalas died in six study areas on NSW’s north coast area.
Ms Ryan says that koalas in the Northern Rivers area suffered enormously and in some key koala populations, up to 80 per cent perished. ‘Rescuers had to fight a mountain of bureaucratic resistance to access these areas to locate and save surviving koalas who were in urgent need to veterinary care, hydration, food and safe shelter,’ says Ms Ryan. ‘Ironically, the loggers wishing to remove remaining trees including koala food trees, have faced no such obstacles in unburned and burned forests.
Australia’s shameful native species extinction record
‘We know Australia’s shameful native species extinction record was already on display to the world and with the bushfires, that non-disputed record became all the more urgent. Across Australia, in NSW and around the world, we witnessed the bushfire horrors that impacted communities and native species, and pristine rainforest areas which had never before been impacted, also succumbed to fire.’
Ms Ryan said that the world reached out with compassion and financial support for Aussies and our precious wildlife. ‘I wonder what the world thinks now about our Commonwealth and NSW Governments’ complete lack of effective or long term responses to the plight of our environment, native species and the global climate emergency?
‘The federal government’s recent political interference with our Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act, still under the once in a decade review, speaks volumes about the priorities of government and its refusal to consider public and expert opinion and advice over vested interests and flawed “commercial” policy direction.
Land-clearing labelled state-wide risk to biodiversity
‘We know in a recent NSW report by the Natural Resources Commission, NSW’s land-clearing was labelled as a “state-wide risk to biodiversity” with deforestation occurring at record levels with half being attributed to agriculture, forestry and infrastructure and only about one-fifth of the 2018 land cover change formally authorised, with 73 per cent listed as “unexplained”, and minimal prosecutions occurring.’
Ms Ryan said that climate change temperatures continue to increase and rainfall continues to decrease. ‘Our once-imposing Rivers like the Murray Darling are in serious trouble, while our once abundant groundwater reserves are plummeting with very little regulation and oversight by the responsible agencies.
‘The NSW Government recently heaped self-congratulations on itself following the release of the Bushfire Inquiry report promising to implement all recommendations, but here’s the kicker – not a single recommendation relates to climate change because the climate emergency was considered a taboo topic and was off-limits during the Inquiry.
‘The Commonwealth Government allocated $200 million towards bushfire recovery for the environment in response to the overwhelming Australian public’s distress over the environment and the urgent plight of our native species. Here’s another kick – much of this public “environment recovery ” money has actually gone towards lethal animal control programs including vast amounts of 1080 poison now saturating our landscapes.’
1080 inhumane for target and non-target species
Ms Ryan said we know from experience here and around the world, lethal control programs don’t work. ‘We know from evidence that 1080 poison is inhumane for target and non-target species, including native species, who die a slow and agonising death. This is why most civilised countries around the world have banned 1080, and yet our uninformed governments continue to waste millions in taxpayer money because they are reluctant to accept change or science. They like things how they are and local government councils including Tweed Shire Council follow blindly in spite of their “environmental” claims.
Even our much-loved companion dogs continue to die in horrific circumstances after ingesting 1080 poison often carried and dropped by birds of prey or already consumed by another animal.
‘Do we really need to lose another three billion animals or witness the total demise of the very last of our iconic koalas? We live in a shared environment which is fragile and that demands coexistence and respect for the environment and all who depend on her.’
Visit the Coalition of Australians Against 1090 Poison site to stay updated on the fight to ban 1080 poison and the humane and long term and effective alternatives.