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Risk perception, preparedness and response of livestock producers to bushfires : a South Australian case study
Animal ownership has been shown to be a risk factor for the survival of humans during emergencies and natural disasters largely due to evacuation failures. For livestock producers, it is often impossibleto evacuate their animals given the need to ensure the safety of all persons, property (e.g. dwellings, equipment, paddocks), pets, and the welfare of their stock. To determine their use of information and warnings, and their planning and preparedness behaviour, 41 livestock producers from three field sites around rural South Australia that were threatened or impacted by significant bushfires in January 2014 were interviewed. The majority had a low level of concern fo rbushfire threat, with almost all opting to ‘stay and defend’ their property. Few had formally written ‘bushfire risk management plans’, adequate insurance for livestock, a contingency plan, or used information resources. However, they reported multiple other routine and ordinary practices contributing to their bushfire preparedness. Such activities used a more ‘common sense’ approach, conducted as part of everyday property management practices and farming culture. It is clear that livestock producers have different needs before and during bushfires, and have a different perception of risk than other animal owners or rural dwellers in general.