SHEEP make up the bulk of more than 43,000 farm animals lost in the bushfires on South Australia’s Kangaroo Island.
And up to today, almost 50,000 stock have been confirmed lost as a result of the fires across the state.
Initial assessments from Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA) have indicated more than 43,000 livestock registered with the department have been lost in the island’s bushfires.
State Controller for Agriculture and Animal Services, Mehdi Doroudi said the stock had either been destroyed by fire or euthanised following the fires on the island.
“While this has been largely sheep, losses have also included cattle and horses.
“Since the first fires ignited on Kangaroo Island on 20 December, PIRSA staff have been undertaking agricultural impact assessments on the island, contacting more than 200 livestock property owners,” he said.
He said teams of veterinarians have also been on hand, assisting with livestock assessments and initial treatment, as well as with disposal advice to producers and animal owners and assisting with humane euthanisation when required.
Professor Doroudi said while initial livestock assessments have been completed, PIRSA was still liaising with other impacted primary industries on Kangaroo Island including apiary, horticulture, viticulture, forestry, aquaculture and fisheries as well as boutique local producers.
“This will assist PIRSA in understanding the needs of producers and how we can enhance the recovery in a way that will provide the most meaningful support,” he said.
“We are also continuing to work with other partners such as SAVEM and RSPCA as part of the wildlife assessment operations and Livestock SA, who are co-ordinating the transportation and dispersal of hay to the Island, in liaison with the Australian Defence Force.
“Fodder supplies have arrived on the island and will continue to be brought in, Professor Doroudi said.
“Livestock producers and owners requiring assistance with fodder supply and landowners wishing to donate emergency fodder, are encouraged to contact Livestock SA on 8297 2299.
“Farmers needing assistance with the disposal and burial of livestock, covering existing burial pits or other tasks requiring heavy equipment are requied to call the PIRSA bushfire hotline – 1800 255 556 – and we will coordinate with the Australian Defence Force to perform this work.”
PIRSA said 208 livestock properties have been affected by the Ravine and Duncan fires on Kangaroo Island. With initial assessments completed, it has been calculated that 43,938 livestock registered with PIRSA have been destroyed by fire or euthanised. These include 42, 727 sheep, 1152 cattle, six horses and 52 other animals.
Biosecurity is focus in recovery
As the recovery process ramps up, Professor Doroudi reminded volunteers and visitors travelling to Kangaroo Island to ensure vehicles and equipment are clean to safeguard the island’s unique farm environment and wildlife from introduced weeds, pests and diseases.
“I’m sure people would not want to hamper the recovery efforts for our primary producers on Kangaroo Island by inadvertently not complying with the island’s biosecurity regulations,” he said.
Bee products (including honey and wax), beehives, bees, beehive material and equipment must not be brought to the Island in order to protect the unique Ligurian bee from disease. Potatoes are also prohibited to protect the Island’s valuable seed potato industry.
Apiarists concerned about disposal, hive recovery or product contamination are encouraged to ring the PIRSA Apiaries Unit on 0408 812 698.
For assistance with injured and stray wildlife and companion animals please call SAVEM (South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management) on 0477 055 233.
Other bushfire-related information for primary producers and animal owners, including information on rebate grants aimed at assisting producers with the recovery process and getting back business, is also available at www.pir.sa.gov.au/bushfires