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<a href="http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061218/sc_nm/australia_bushfires_dc_1" target="_blank">http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20061218/...bushfires_dc_1</a><br><br><br><br>
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Hundreds of thousands of native Australian animals such as koalas and kangaroos have been killed in bushfires that have burned across southeast Australia in the past two weeks, wildlife officials said on Monday.<br><br>
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The bushfires, which are still burning in three eastern states, have been so big and intense that wildlife officials fear some species may become extinct as the fires destroy large swathes of animal habitats.<br><br><br><br>
"The fires are so devastating and moving so quickly that animals just don't have a chance to get out of the way," said Pat O'Brien, president of the Wildlife Protection Association.<br><br><br><br>
"Because of the heat and the fireballs that are happening the animals are just bursting into flames and just being killed even before the fire gets to them because its so hot," O'Brien told Reuters on Monday.<br><br><br><br>
Koalas and possums, which instinctively climb to the treetops for safety, would have had no chance of escaping the blazes, and kangaroos and bush birds would have been unable to outrun the fast-burning fires, he said.<br><br><br><br>
This meant a very real threat of seeing species unique to the burnt-out areas, such as frogs and birds, becoming extinct, O'Brien said.<br><br><br><br>
"These fires will directly contribute to the extinction of a number of species and we won't know the full effects for another 10 years," he said.<br><br><br><br>
"It takes 100 years for some animals to move back in an area, if there's any available to move back in. In the case of gliders, which are rare and endangered anyway, they may never come back ... they'll just go into extinction."<br><br><br><br>
Fires in Victoria, Tasmania and New South Wales states have burned more than 847,000 hectares (2 million acres). The worst fires are in Victoria where more than 4,000 firefighters are battling four large blazes which have blackened 750,000 hectares.<br><br><br><br>
Police say more than 30 homes have so far been razed.<br><br><br><br>
Firefighters said on Monday cooler conditions had eased the bushfire threat in the three eastern states but fires were still burning out of control. In Western Australia, a fire which has already destroyed 12,000 hectares is blazing unchecked.<br><br><br><br>
EXPLODE INTO FLAMES<br><br><br><br>
Wildlife officials said a major factor in the high animal death toll was the predominance of eucalyptus trees in burning bushland. The oil in the trees explodes into flames.<br><br><br><br>
"As soon as they get hot the eucalypt oil catches on fire and then it just goes like a steam train," said Hugh Wirth, president of Victoria's Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).<br><br><br><br>
"If you've got a crown fire, in other words the fire is going through the treetops ... those fires move extremely rapidly and the animals just can't outrun them, not even kangaroos."<br><br><br><br>
Wirth said he believed close to 100 percent of the animals in the path of the Victorian blazes had been destroyed, with wildlife rescuers reporting no survivors.<br><br><br><br>
"Surviving wildlife usually comes out of hiding within three to four days of a fire going through the area and unfortunately we're not getting any reports of any survivors so far," he said.<br><br><br><br>
Wildlife officials fear the animal death toll will rise even further as those animals which survive the fires may now starve to death in the charred landscape.<br><br><br><br>
"Even if they do survive the fires there's starvation issues beyond that. It's just another nail in the coffin of the species which may have survived otherwise," said O'Brien.<br><br><br><br>
Australia faces extreme fire danger this summer due to a drought. Bushfires are a regular feature of the summer and, over the past 40 years, they have killed more than 250 people. Scientists fear climate change will bring more frequent higher temperatures and less rainfall.
 

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Sorry, but speaking from an aussie point of view, barely a day goes by in summer when you can't smell backburning (or fuel reduction burns). Generally, these fires are started by idiots who think it's cool. The bush is made to burn. It's how it reproduces. Combined with the drought (now going on for over 5 years, the worst ever), thats a lot of fuel, especially since there has never been much land clearing in Australia. Throw in the strong winds that are so common around here, and you have an uncontrollable monster. Ash falling like rain in the city, red sunsets, dying animals, the whole shibang. There is not a hope in hell that fire fighters can stop it, just control it until it burns itself out. Especially if we want the water supplies in the dam to actually last until 2009 (the scheduled date where there's gonna have to be another alternative, and you will be able to walk over the dam and not get your feet wet). Bushfires tend to be as natural as breathing here in the summer. It's a way of life, so please don't act like we sit around all day and say 'yeah, those bushfires, it aint gonna happen to us.' We get hundreds of fires for every one that the press moons over in the U.S., and we know the best way to handle ourselves in these situations. What we don't need is people sitting comfortably in the middle of snowdrifts telling us what to do.<br><br><br><br>
Sorry. I'm just really pissed over the dying animals. Sorry if it's rude.
 

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Yes, the "if they didn't fire reduce there wouldn't be bushfires" is just a plain ignorant point of view. As luv4all said, severe, prolonged drought combined with a natural cycle of burning just plain out means bushfires. Some plants will not even germinate without fire. Jeeze Louise.
 

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the point is not that there <i>are</i> fires, but the intensity of them. if the fuel is not reduced, the fire, when it does start, ends up hotter than the native animals or plants have evolved to survive, which will also make it harder to manage. that is what the fuel reduction burns are for in the first place.
 

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Scythe, technically you're right about the need for fuel reduction, but sometimes it's not done for a reason. A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration before doing them such as the diversity of the forest, the differing topography/vegetation, and different climates and weather conditions.<br><br><br><br>
Also as Das Nut said, people who live in the community tend to not be that keen on fuel reduction burn's because it's not very nice if you live near by, and it increases the air pollution from the smoke and stuff's up the wildlife.
 

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<div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">A lot of factors need to be taken into consideration before doing them such as the diversity of the forest, the differing topography/vegetation, and different climates and weather conditions.</div>
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I know that. They are usually planned according to variables like that AFAIK but they still can do it, it's just a matter of how and when it happens.<br><br><br><br><div class="quote-container"><span>Quote:</span>
<div class="quote-block">Also as Das Nut said, people who live in the community tend to not be that keen on fuel reduction burn's because it's not very nice if you live near by, and it increases the air pollution from the smoke and stuff's up the wildlife.</div>
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I live near by, and the worst that has happened was having smoke over the town like fog a few times, which usually lasts less than 24 hours. Aside from slowing driving, it was just something interesting to look at. And I haven't noticed or heard of smoke doing anything to wildlife. Generally the animals that aren't feral are adapted to fires.
 

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Unfortunately, people have died in fires as well this yr. I don't agree so much with the article. Coming from an aussie, in Tasmania there have been terrible fires and one family amazingly escaped a 'fire storm' by reaching a beach. They ran into the water along with wallabies and possums! Animals do know when they have to get out. Unfortunately, if it's an inner state fire, the animals (and people) don't have many options<br><br><br><br>
Where I am, smoke doesn't dissolve for a couple of days from backburning - although everyone understands that its necessary. I don't think that aus fire service could have prepared any better than what they have. (total fire ban today!)
 
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