Australian Defence Force To Dig Mass Graves For Animals To Avoid Biosecurity Hazard
The Australian Defence Force has been called in to dig mass graves for the animals killed in the ongoing bushfires in an attempt to stop a potential biosecurity emergency.
Hundreds of thousands of animals have been killed in the fires, with shocking images showing carcasses lying on the roadside.
Livestock makes up a significant number of those that have died. Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie has said the fire will 'devastate the national herd'.
McKenzie said the dead animals could pose a 'massive biosecurity risk' so the clean-up operation will see members of the Defence Force 'to dig the pits, if you like, that are going to be required to bury this level of stock'.
Speaking to ABC, McKenzie said: "It's about getting access to those still-live firegrounds but where it's safe to do so we need to be getting in within a week, ideally, to really be dealing with the carcasses in an appropriate way."
The Minister has also offered vets to put sick and dying animals to sleep.
She told ABC: "I've got 100 vets across the country I've offered to state [agriculture] ministers.
"I know South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales will be taking up that offer to get that assistance as soon as possible - to not just assess the health, but these teams will also be euthanasing stock."
The news outlet reports that as of Monday afternoon 3,872 animals had been euthanised.
A heart-breaking post shared on Facebook from firefighter James Zimmerman stated that they needed ammunition to 'put livestock out of their misery' while they were out working.
Ecologists from the University of Sydney have warned that around 480 million mammals, birds and reptiles have died.
Science for Wildlife executive director Dr Kellie Leigh told the New South Wales upper house inquiry: "We're getting a lot of lessons out of this and it's just showing how unprepared we are.
"There's no procedures or protocols in place - even wildlife carers don't have protocols for when they can go in after fire."
A GoFundMe page set up by Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, which has been helping out poorly animals, has raised more than AUD $4 million (£2.1m) since it was launched on 31 October.
Featured Image Credit: PA