Animal rescue services unite to assess the damage to habitat and animal life after the Big Hill Trail fire

A FIVE day fire ripping through more than 10,000 hectares of Limeburners Creek National Park has had a significant impact on wildlife and habitat.

A team from the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service hit the scorched earth on Tuesday morning in what will be a mammoth task to assess the damage to habitat and rescue injured wildlife.

Port Tree Fella has donated its services to the rescue effort using a crane to assist wildlife teams retrieve stressed and injured koalas from trees.

Assessing the damage: A team including the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and National Parks and Wildlife on the look out for injured animals. Photo: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Assessing the damage: A team including the Koala Hospital, Port Macquarie-Hastings Council and National Parks and Wildlife on the look out for injured animals. Photo: Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

Already, more than 29 koalas have been located in fire-ravaged areas with several requiring transport to the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for treatment to injuries and burns.

Assistant clinical director at the hospital, Scott Castle, said the habitat on the North Shore has been decimated.

“We’ve had a team out there for the last three days and we will be out again Friday. The heat has been incredible,” Mr Castles said.

“We’ve found a number of koalas with singed fur and some have minor burns. Fortunately we have not come across any dead ones yet.”

Mr Castles said there are just a few green patches of habitat remaining to which surviving koalas will flock to for food and protection. It will be a co-existence challenge for the animals as they attempt to share from a limited food source.

“They will be pushed together – whether they enjoy that or not remains to be seen. They will all be searching for something they can eat.

“We haven’t left any out there in middle of nowhere. We’ve made sure we have relocated them somewhere with good habitat and food.”

Many of the koalas required triage on scene with the worst affected transported over the river to the hospital for treatment and observation.

The koala food tree conservation area at Blackmans Point was also impacted by the blaze but fortunately the hospital’s young tree plantation was not.

“What we do know now is that there are a lot of koalas out there. The fire will most definitely have an impact on that population,” Mr Castles said.

“They will all be moved on to areas where there are already koalas and that will be a stress load on them.”

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