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113 animal species need "urgent" help after fires in Australia

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Heavy rain hits eastern Australia 02:59

Australia has made a provisional list of more than 100 animal species that require "urgent management intervention" following months of devastating bushfires. The government's wildlife expert panel that put the list together said the animals are in need of "urgent" help.

Researchers feared more than 1 billion animals were killed in the wildfires. While analyzing the destruction, the wildlife panel set the number of animal species requiring the highest priority in the coming weeks and months at 113. That includes 13 bird, 19 mammal, 20 reptile, 17 frog, five invertebrate, 22 crayfish and 17 fish species, Australia's Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment said. Most of them saw at least a third of their range burn. 

"Some species were considered threatened before the fires, and the fires have now likely brought them even closer to extinction," the panel said in a report accompanying the list. 

Those at "imminent risk of extinction" include the Kangaroo Island dunnart, Pugh's frog and the Blue Mountains water skink, according to the report, released Tuesday. Other species such as koalas and giant burrowing frogs require emergency intervention and strategic response to support their recovery. 

Certain types of wallabies are also under threat. 

The panel recommends two "priority actions" for high-priority species: on-ground surveys to determine the extent of population loss and protecting areas that haven't burned. 

"Other interventions required for each species are best informed by species experts, and a detailed suite of actions at local and regional scales should be developed," the panel says. 

According to BBC News, environmental minister Sussan Ley said plant species and other invertebrates are expected to be named in the next update of the list. Ley said assessing the full damage has been difficult because of some ongoing fires and smoldering grounds. 

For this provisional list, factors in identifying the high-priority animals were based on the extent to which their range has been potentially burnt, how vulnerable they were before the fires, and the traits that influence their vulnerability to fire.   

The unprecedented fires claimed at least 33 lives since September, destroyed more than 3,000 homes and burned more than 26.2 million acres, according to The Associated Press. Some fighting the fires have gotten relief recently, as Sydney's heaviest rainfall in 30 years extinguished dozens of bushfires. 

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