THE state government has outlined an initial $17.5 million rescue package to protect and restore wildlife and biodiversity in the wake of this month’s bushfires.
The money will be spent on restoring habitat, controlling predators and pests as well as aerial drops of food for animals.
Wildlife experts say 185 of Victoria’s species, many of them rare and threatened, have already been impacted by the fire emergency.
The first animals to benefit will be those species judged most at risk, including the brush-tailed rock wallaby, long-footed potaroo and large brown tree frog.
“These fires have had a devastating effect on Victoria – its people and its environment. We’re providing this direct and immediate support to help our wildlife and landscape recover, just as we’re supporting bushfire-affected communities recover and rebuild,” the Premier Daniel Andrews said.
“There are already specialist teams on the ground providing food, shelter and care for injured animals – this funding will expand this vital work, helping our most precious plants and animals recover from these devastating fires.”
The Opposition’s environment and climate change spokesperson, Mornington MP David Morris, said the government had wasted to much time before helping wildlife.
“Daniel Andrews should have directed food drops to begin last week,” Mr Morris said two days before the premier’s announcement. “How many animals and birds have already died because of his government’s failure to act?
“Hours and days are critical if these endangered species are to survive for future generations.”
He said two critically endangered birds, the swift parrot and the regent honeyeater lived in fire-affected areas.
“Some mammals, like the long-footed potoroo have between 50 per cent and 80 per cent of their surviving numbers in the fire-affected forests,” Mr Morris said.