With more than 1.5 million hectares of Victorian bushland burnt since November, finding native animals that survived the fires is a massive task.

To tackle it, we’re using satellite imagery and helicopters with aerial intelligence-gathering equipment, like thermal scanning cameras, to find the native animals that may need our help.

We also have wildlife assessment teams going into fire grounds on foot, where it is safe to do so, to find and assess wildlife  that may need treatment. Some animals have been transported to Zoos Victoria in Melbourne, to wildlife shelters or trained volunteer foster carers for further help. Others are being returned to the bush.

Aerial monitoring flights began on Tuesday 21 January. Another two have been arranged over East Gippsland.
The aim is to collect valuable information about surviving wildlife and areas of unburnt bushland. They’re also gathering information about the number and locations of deer, feral horses and pigs.

Flyovers conducted to date have so far found minimal signs of wildlife in fire affected areas.

Matt White, a Senior ecological modelling scientist at DELWP, says they want to find out more about native animal welfare issues, including what animals are involved.

“We’ve used satellite imagery to do fire intensity mapping which gives us a handle on areas where we can find unburnt bush within the fire grounds and hopefully surviving wildlife,” says Matt. “We’ve used the mapping to decide where to send the helicopters.”

One of these fact-finding flights is focussing on the Snowy River Valley near Orbost to the Murrindal area, and along parts of the Snowy, Rodger and Yalmy rivers. A second will start at Marlo, moving north along the Cann River to Lake Furnell and will also take in the Thurra River.

The information gathered will be used to target our animal welfare work. “We’re hoping it will tell us where we’re needed most, what native animals need supplementary feeding and if they need to be protected from pests that could further threaten their survival,” says Matt.

These flights are an ongoing part of the work we’re doing to understand and respond the needs of our precious wildlife and how we can best support their welfare and recovery. More will be scheduled where needed, including in the state’s northeast.

We have created a map that will give you a clearer understanding of how the fires have affected wildlife habitat and how we’re responding.

Page last updated: 27/07/20