Australian Wildfire & Wildlife Insights

koala Driggers


The 2019/2020 wildfires put the plight of Australian wildlife and the realities of climate change on the international stage. This live, interactive, distance-learning event will consist of two, 1-hour seminars that explore the impact of Australian bushfires on wildlife.

  • Part 1, presented by Dr. Talbot, explores the basics of patient assessment and triage as well as management of pain, smoke inhalation, and burns for the unique species found in Australia. Australian marsupials have some important differences compared to domestic animals and livestock, which some practitioners may not be aware of and may inadvertently do more harm than good when trying to help.  The presentation will cover:
      • Personal safety
      • Species knowledge
      • Equipment needed
      • Patient evaluation/Triage
      • Physical examination
      • Classifying burns
      • When to euthanize
      • Fluid therapy for various species
      • Pain management for various species
      • Smoke inhalation
      • Burn treatment regime
      • Recovery and finally
      • Environmental stewardship as a multimodal approach to treating wildlife.
  • Part 2 summarizes Dr. Campbell-Ward’s research evaluating the key rescue/rehabilitation-related wild animal welfare outcomes and ethical dilemmas encountered during the 2019/2020 Australian ‘black summer’ bushfires.The 2019/2020 wildfires put the plight of Australian wildlife and the realities of Anthropocene-related climate change on the international stage. In the often resource- and attention-poor field of wildlife rescue and rehabilitation, offers of financial and well-meaning practical help were abundant. As the world grappled with a sense of collective ecological grief, veterinarians and wildlife rescuers were placed under immense pressure to achieve positive outcomes with unprecedented levels of traditional and social media exposure.This project has generated a suite of interesting results of relevance to large scale wildlife rehabilitation efforts, veterinary and animal care worker mental health and resilience, the influence of the media in disasters, compliance with established Codes of Practice and inter-agency/stakeholder communication.To conclude, there is a discussion centered around how the research results might be and are being incorporated into natural disaster preparedness plans for the future.


About the presenters

Michelle Campbell-Ward is a Senior Program and Policy Officer for Animal Welfare in the Department of Regional New South Wales (NSW). She has also worked as a zoo and wildlife veterinarian with the Taronga Conservation Society, based in Dubbo NSW, since 2008. Michelle studied zoology and veterinary medicine at the University of Sydney… [Learn more].

Bree Talbot joined the team at Byron Bay Wildlife Hospital in 2020, where she leads Australia’s largest Mobile Wildlife Hospital. Bree was previously an Associate Veterinarian at the University of Sydney’s Avian, Reptile, and Exotic Pet Hospital and the Wildlife Health and Conservation Centre, where she worked for 6 years… [Learn more].


Wildlife bushfire relief scholarship

The Wildlife Bushfire Relief Scholarship is offered by the Unusual Pet and Avian Veterinarians (UPAV) Special Interest Group of the Australian Veterinary Association. This scholarship is funded by the generous donations of international colleagues, with fundraising efforts spearheaded by Dr. Todd Driggers. These funds cover 3 years of wildlife scholarships and workshops.

The Wildlife Bushfire Relief Scholarship aims to encourage veterinarians to share their experience and clinical skills gained throughout the bushfires of the 2018-2019 summer season with the UPAV community. The Scholarship provides free registration for one UPAV Annual Conference, a $1,000 travel stipend to attend the UPAV Conference, as well as the opportunity to present a conference paper. Applicants must be currently registered Australian veterinarians at the time of application.

Visit the AVA website for more information and to apply.


Webinar recordings

Part 1: Bushfires & Australian Wildlife by Dr. Bree Talbot


Part 2: Ethics & Wild Animal Welfare in Natural Disasters by Dr. Michelle Campbell-Ward



Complete two brief quizzes for parts 1 and 2 of this webinar series. With a passing grade, you can earn a total 2 hours of continuing education credit in jurisdictions that recognize American Association of Veterinary State Boards (AAVSB) Registry of Approved Continuing Education (RACE) approval.
Part 1 by Dr. Bree Talbot:  With a passing grade of 75% or higher, you can receive a 1 hour of continuing education credit.

Test your knowledge

Part 2 by Dr. Michelle Campbell-Ward: With a passing grade of 70% or higher, you can receive 1 hour of continuing education credit.

Test your knowledge


Evaluation form

What did you think? Please complete the evaluation form to provide feedback or to make suggestions for future webinar topics.


RACE approval

This program is approved for 2 hours of continuing education by AAVSB RACE for veterinarians and veterinary technicians.



Bushfires & Australian Wildlife by Dr. Bree Talbot

  • Tello LH. 2011. Severe burns in small animals. WSAVA World Congress Proceedings
  • Vogelnest L, Portas T. 2019. Current Therapy in Medicine of Australian Mammals. CSIRO Publishing.
  • Vogelnest L. 2020. Assessment. Triage and treatment of bushfire affected wildlife. Taronga Training Institute.

Ethics & Wild Animal Welfare in Natural Disasters by Dr. Michelle Campbell-Ward

  • Burton E, Tribe A. The rescue and rehabilitation of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) in Southeast Queensland. Animals (Basel). 2016 Sep 15;6(9):56. doi: 10.3390/ani6090056. PMID: 27649249; PMCID: PMC5035951.
  • Comtesse H, Ertl V, Hengst SMC, Rosner R, Smid GE. Ecological grief as a response to environmental change: A mental health risk or functional response? Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Jan 16;18(2):734. doi: 10.3390/ijerph18020734. PMID: 33467018; PMCID: PMC7830022.
  • Haering R, Wilson V, Zhuo A, Stathis P. Towards a more effective model of wildlife care and rehabilitation: A survey of volunteers in New South Wales, Australia. Australian Zoologist 1 June 2020; 40 (4): 605–627.  doi:  10.7882/AZ.2019.018.
  • Herbert C, Smith D, Keong J, et al. 2020. Don’t stress me out! Stress response to wildlife care and rehabilitation. In:  Australian Wildlife Management Society 33rd Annual Conference book of Abstracts, p. 8.
  • Mellor DJ, Beausoleil NJ, Littlewood KE, McLean AN, McGreevy PD, Jones B, Wilkins C. The 2020 Five Domains Model: Including human-animal interactions in assessments of animal welfare. Animals (Basel). 2020 Oct 14;10(10):1870. doi: 10.3390/ani10101870. PMID: 33066335; PMCID: PMC7602120.
  • RSPCA. 2020. Wildlife. RSPCA web site. Available at Accessed September 25, 2021.
  • Samuel G. 2020. Independent review of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act–Interim Report, Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, Canberra, June. CC BY 4.0. Available at Accessed Sep 25, 2021.
  • Ward MS, Simmonds JS, Reside AE, et al. Lots of loss with little scrutiny: The attrition of habitat critical for threatened species in Australia. Conservation Science and Practice 1(11):e117. doi: 10.1111/csp2.117.
To cite this page:

Campbell-Ward M, Talbot B. Australian wildfire and wildlife insights. LafeberVet web site. June 26, 2021. Available at