NSW volunteer firefighter, wildlife carer and indigenous ambassador for the Invasive Species Council Richard Swain is today calling on state and federal governments to launch an all-out attack on feral animals in fire zones scorched by this summer’s catastrophic bushfires.
“I’ve been out patrolling the fire grounds near my house in Numeralla and all I’ve seen is scorched earth, injured and dying native wildlife, foxes on the hunt and feral goats grazing what remains of the vegetation,” Mr Swain said today.
“We’ve just received a load of feed for our native wildlife from very generous bushfire donations, but if we put it out in the bush our native animals will have to compete for it against feral animals like goats, horses and deer.
“Right now our native wildlife are sitting ducks for predators like feral cats and foxes.
“We have to give our recovering native wildlife a fighting chance against foxes, feral cats and the large, heavy-hoofed invasive animals that are freely roaming the fire grounds and devouring everything in sight.
“For example, if we don’t act now to aerially cull feral horses in Kosciuszko National Park we will be left with nothing but barren ground and starving horses. An aerial cull is by far the most humane action we can take to protect our native wildlife and to save the feral horses themselves from a slow and painful death by starvation.”
Mr Swain has joined the Invasive Species Council’s call for a three-point wildlife recovery program:
– Feral cat and fox control: Fast-track feral cat trapping and fox baiting at threatened mammal sites.
– Hard-hooved pest animal control: Accelerate trapping, ground and aerial shooting of feral deer, horses, goats and pigs.
– Weed control: Target urban areas and disturbed sites susceptible to weed incursions.
“We welcome the initial $50 million commitment made this week by the federal government for wildlife recovery. This needs to be boosted by additional federal and state government funds and fast tracked to quickly hit the ground,” Mr Swain said.
Mr Swain is a volunteer firefighter with his local fire brigade. As well as battling this summer’s bushfires he has been called in to help protect Aboriginal sites in Kosciuszko National Park from the fires, and has also been defending his own home, which is threatened by one of the fire fronts.
Richard and his partner Alison Swain have also been caring for wildlife injured by the bushfires.