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Tasman fires: MPI and SPCA animal welfare update

• Anyone worried about animals in the fire affected area should phone the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) on 0800 008 333 (option 4).
• For the latest updates visit The Nelson Tasman Civil Defence website www.nelsontasmancivildefence.co.nz/news
• MPI is coordinating the animal welfare response and has staff and volunteers on the ground, including transporters, ready to help. We are processing all jobs and volunteer offers as fast as we can allocate available crews to accompany animal welfare teams to check on properties.
• Animals of any size can be brought directly to the Richmond Showgrounds where there is housing, food and water.
• MPI is the lead agency in terms of animal welfare response, working with CDEM as the overall event lead, and coordinating the efforts of SPCA, HUHANZ and others.
• Civil Defence will prevent people without proper registration crossing the cordon, for safety reasons. People wanting to volunteer should phone 0800 008 333 and register with the agencies being coordinated by MPI.
• Donations of animal food and supplies to Richmond Showgrounds have been plentiful. All contributions are welcome but at the moment there is no urgent need.

MPI and the SPCA are praising the efforts of staff and the many volunteers involved in the animal welfare response to the Tasman fires.

“With over 200 lifestyle blocks in the fire affected area of Tasman District, the animal welfare effort has been widely spread and the support has been very strong,” says Charlotte Austin, MPI Response Manager.

“Where possible, animals are being tended to in place, which is less stressful for them. Crews are working behind the cordon where they can, taking food and water and in some cases bringing animals back to the Richmond Showgrounds.”

One of three farms in the area had its 150 cows and 50 calves moved to a less vulnerable part of the farm. From another property 10 pigs and piglets were rescued and taken to the Showgrounds, and household pets have also been taken there.

“We re-visited Redwood Valley yesterday when cordons were briefly opened to residents. We are confident that every one of the animals still in place in the valley has been accounted for, fed and watered, and is in a good state.”

As the lead agency for the animal welfare response, MPI has been on the ground since the fire response started. They called in staff and volunteers from SPCA, Massey University Response Team and Animal Evac.

“SPCA's Nelson centre has been assisting with animal rescue and emergency accommodation since Thursday – they have helped a range of species including livestock and companion animals,” says SPCA CEO Andrea Midgen.

“SPCA's National Rescue Unit (a volunteer team made up of specialist animal rescue technicians) deployed on Friday. They are going into the cordoned area with MPI to assist with evacuations and ensuring the welfare of animals, with lead technician Gina Kemp coordinating these teams,” says Andrea Midgen.

Charlotte Austin says people can be reassured that there are teams on the ground focused on the welfare of animals and people. We are grateful for the donations of feed and supplies that continue pouring in and for our dedicated volunteers.

“Coordinating volunteers is a huge part of the task, and we need people to work through the agencies we are coordinating with, that so we can ensure efficient coordination of efforts and the safety of all involved. Fire and emergency authorities will prevent people without proper registration crossing the cordon, for safety reasons.

“This is an incredibly worrying time for animal owners in the affected areas. They are desperately concerned for their animals and livestock, and we are too.

“Our people are dedicated to the welfare of animals and we will give our all to ensure their protection, but we cannot put human safety or resources dedicated to fighting the fire at risk.”

Anyone who is worried about animals whether inside the cordon, or anywhere near the fires, should phone 0800 008 333. That’s the best way to make sure every animal is accounted for.

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