As winter approaches and the risk of bushfires diminishes, many rural landholders consider conducting a burn off, which can pose a risk to wildlife.
Garden debris, leaves and small logs can be accumulated in a pile over many months, which animals like reptiles and echidnas, can crawl into for shelter from heat and predators.
These burn piles may be amassed over many months, where they sit undisturbed usually in an open area or paddock.
The Rural Fire Service advises that burns must gain approval prior to being conducted, and only vegetation can be within the pile.
Wildcare Queanbeyan provides tips on how to conduct a pile burn safely through minimising risks for wildlife.
Animals can be severely injured or killed if they are in a pile while it is in flames.
The only effective way to ensure the safety of wildlife, is to build the burn pile the day you are intending to light it - which minimises the likelihood of animals seeking refuge in the pile.
It is advisable to thoroughly check any timbers, as smaller species such as feathertail and sugar gliders may be nesting in hollows.
If you create a pile over time, it is preferable to move the entire pile prior to burning it.
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Reptiles and echidnas are particularly vulnerable in these circumstances, and it is estimated that many perish in pile burns every year.
If you are unable to move the pile prior to burning, please don't use accelerants such as petrol.
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It is best to light the pile on one side only to allow any animals within the pile adequate time to escape.
Stand to observe the pile on the side that is burning, as frightened animals will flee from the non-burning side if they are able to do so.
If an animals are injured while a pile burn is being conducted, please contact Wildcare Queanbeyan on the 24/7 helpline, 6299 1966.
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