Australia — Tens of thousands of head of livestock are believed to have died in bushfires in Victoria in recent days.
State Agriculture Minister Peter Walsh says it’s hard to estimate stock losses while some fires are still burning.
“There are no confirmed numbers at the moment, because it is an active fire,” Mr Walsh told the Victorian Country Hour.
“We have teams in there getting in there as soon as possible. I think tragically the stock losses will be in the tens of thousands, but that’s not a number we can commit to at the moment.”
He says he’s had reports of sheep and a number of cattle that have perished in the fires.
“(It’s) absolutely tragic for those people who have been personally affected here.”
Since Sunday, fire crews have been working to control fires north of Melbourne, in Gippsland and northern Victoria.
Some farmers in fire-affected areas north of Melbourne were concerned their stock were going hungry because fodder supplies couldn’t get through bushfire road blocks.
The Victorian Farmers Federation has set up a fodder drive to supply feed to farmers burnt out by the fires, but many roads had been blocked for safety reasons.
Tom Syme, who farms at Darraweit Guim, lost a hayshed, pastures and fences, when fire came onto his property on Sunday and Monday, but all his animals survived.
He had an offer of hay but says no-one could get into his property to deliver it.
“Since Sunday they haven’t had anything to eat. You try and organise a truck to come and take some cattle away maybe to a sale, or to agistment and they can’t get in,” Mr Syme told ABC local radio.
“My thoughts are if I can get someone who can bring this load of hay up for me on the truck, it’s a fairly hard hearted policeman who won’t let it come down the road when there is absolutely no danger of fire now.”
Mr Walsh says roads are starting to reopen.
“We’ve got to remember this is an active fire still,” he said.
“A lot of people are involved in the firefighting effort to make sure we don’t lose any more properties and houses out there.
“They are going through and as soon as they possibly can they are reopening roads.
“If there is a desperate need to get a feed truck into some of those properties, the CFA will actually escort trucks in there.”
The State Government has offered concessional loans to farmers affected by fires in the Grampians region of western Victoria last month. Mr Walsh says he expects that scheme will be expanded to fire-affected areas in other parts of the state.
Mr Walsh says emergency response money is available for people who have had to evacuate their homes and find temporary accommodation.