Animal Evac New Zealand has a six person disaster response team with experience in animal disaster management, international humanitarian aid, veterinary medicine, disaster victim identification, paramedicine, incident management, animal control, wildland firefighting, military command and technical animal rescue and is on the ground in Bateman’s Bay Area ready to assist authorities.
This is the first time New Zealand has deployed a trained animal disaster response team overseas and the priority is to support local agencies in addressing any animal response specific needs. Animal Evac New Zealand also became the first specialist animal disaster response team to arrive from overseas and undertake operational rescues of wildfire affected animals.
The volunteer team have all completed wildland fire safety training or wildland firefighting courses to ensure their safety, though they will not entering the fireground unless directed to do so by authorities.
Animal Evac New Zealand has registered their capacity to assist with the NSW Department of Primary Industries as the lead for animal emergency management, as well as offered with capacity to the RSPCA in NSW also. Animal Evac NZ founder Steve Glassey notes that "This is one of the biggest animal disasters since the Ice Age" In an interview with RNZ Steve said " While people can usually escape with their pets when there is threat of fire, there's no way to move wildlife to a safe area in advance.
"As the fires move, it's like a tsunami wave of animals that are running away from the fire front, and sometimes that fire speed is too fast. The animals are all moving out in a large surge, but if there's boundary fencing they just get caught up against it and unfortunately perish."
"The New South Wales Rural Fire Service is doing an amazing job and has a slick operation going"
"As they're fighting fires they're trying to herd wildlife away from fire lines."
"There wouldn't be enough resources in the world to send to Australia – without overwhelming all the infrastructure – to rescue all these animals, he says.
'It's like a needle in haystack… we know there are millions of animals out there. We may be able to find or locate a few but you still feel 'well, are we making a dent in this?' "The problem of untrained people trying to save wildlife from fire is creating a secondary disaster for authorities".
"The overwhelming amount of spontaneous volunteers distracts them from being able to help and mobilise legitimate animal rescue organisations.
"There's a lac of trained responders that have fire safety training and the experience to go into potential danger with the confidence of the local authorities."
Mark Anderson of Evac NZ holds a wombat Photo: Animal Evac New Zealand To contact the team send a message via their facebook page Animal Evac New Zealand or email them direct via their website http://www.animalevac.nz/contact-us/ You can also make a donation to our local animal welfare groups: RSPCA Eurobodalla Volunteer Branch Call 0424228425 WIRES mid south coast branch BSB 062-170 Acc. 10040871 (be sure to write Mid South Coast) in the description Animal Welfare League NSW - Eurobodalla Branch