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$50m boost for fire-affected wildlife

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Wildlife and environmental groups are being given an initial cash injection of $50 million as the country reels from the unprecedented bushfire crisis.

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The commonwealth money will be evenly split with $25 million to an emergency intervention fund and $25 million for frontline environmental groups.

This includes up to $5 million for Greening Australia for revegetation initiatives and up to $3 million for zoos to help treat animals.

Money will be steered by Australia’s threatened species commissioner Sally Box, who will work with a panel to put a recovery plan in place.

The panel will include university experts as well as people from Zoos Victoria, CSIRO and state and territory representatives.

The government’s main priorities are to rehabilitate injured wildlife, control feral predators, map affected areas and use unburned areas to protect animals.

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has described the bushfires as an ecological disaster, telling Sky News eight million hectares had been lost so far, with more than one billion animals estimated to have died.

Environment Minister Sussan Ley says it’s too early to know the impact of the catastrophic fires, but that it creates an historic environmental challenge.

“We need to be guided by scientific experts in the field, by our national research bodies, the traditional owners who have managed this land over tens of thousands of years, our farmers whose passion and commitment to the land spans generations and our local communities,” she said in a statement.

Meanwhile, thousands of kilograms of carrots and sweet potatoes are being dropped by planes in fire-affected areas of NSW to help wallabies.

Injured animals are also being treated in bushfire-ravaged areas of Victoria.

RSPCA Victoria has deployed a mobile animal care unit to care for injured wildlife, including animals evacuated from the stranded town of Mallacoota.

Their South Australian peers have converted a wildlife refuge into a treatment centre for animals injured on Kangaroo Island.

Up to 80 animals are being rescued every day in Queensland, prompting the state government to announce $250,000 in grants for wildlife carers.

-AAP

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