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January 13, 2021 – In early 2020, as wildfires ravaged Australia, Morris Animal Foundation established the Australian Wildlife Fund for critical fire-related health research to improve outcomes for affected animals now and in the future. Five studies were approved for funding.

Survival Indicators
Charles Sturt University, Australia

Monitor the health of three iconic marsupials – koala, wombat and macropods (including kangaroo and wallaby) – from hospital admission to release and use these findings to guide prognosis and treatment decisions to improve release success and conservation of rehabilitated wildlife affected by wildfires.

Optimizing Marsupial Outcomes
University of Melbourne, Australia

Review records and analyze samples from wildfire-affected wildlife to identify factors that influence prognosis and welfare. Findings will guide decision-making during triage and intensive veterinary care of fire-affected koalas and kangaroos.

Maximizing Koala Survival
University of Adelaide, Australia

Analyze clinical case data collected from multiple rescue groups and wildlife veterinarians who treated and cared for fire-affected koalas. Findings will help identify predisposing risk factors and prognostic indicators related to immediate injuries such as smoke inhalation and burn severity, as well as longer-term problems related to stress, dehydration, starvation and disease

Antibiotic Use
Macquarie University, Australia

Investigate how antibiotics were used to treat wildfire-affected wildlife to help inform antibiotic-resistance risks and improve treatment outcomes. A better understanding of antibiotic treatment and potential impacts on wildlife during wildfire response also will inform development of training resources to ensure optimal antibiotic use for treating wildlife during future fire events.

Rehabilitation Guidelines
University of Sydney, Australia

Clarify which species may be at greatest risk during fire seasons and provide best practice guidelines in the rescue, care and release phases of rehabilitation to improve marsupial survival and conservation.