Thursday, November 16, 2023
Mackay and Whitsunday Life
Koalas are now on the move looking for love or a new home, with veterinarians and wildlife carers urging all Queenslanders to be extra vigilant and help keep koalas safe this breeding season.
Koalas will be spending more time on the ground as they try to find a mate or establish new territory, and young koalas leave their mothers to find a home of their own.
During this time, koalas are more prone to dog attacks and car strikes and a range of other natural and human-related threats as they move through backyards and on busy roads.
These threats are compounded this year by the ongoing El Niño weather event, which is causing koalas to travel further to find water.
The hot and dry weather also decreases liveable koala habitat, meaning more koalas are congregating in smaller areas which increases the risk of the potentially deadly koala bacterial disease Chlamydia pecorum.
While vets are doing their best to rehabilitate injured koalas, Queenslanders can help avoid these tragic accidents from happening by taking some simple steps this koala breeding season.
• Driving carefully, especially between dusk and dawn when koalas are most active, and whenever you see a koala warning or advisory signs
• Keeping your dog inside or contained at night
• Training your dog in wildlife avoidance
• Creating koala-friendly fencing and swimming pools to give koalas an escape route
• Reporting all sick or injured koalas to RSPCA Animal Emergency 1300 ANIMAL hotline by calling 1300 264 625.
Queenslanders can also report all wild koala sightings to DES via the free QWildlife Koala Sighting app, which recently took home the Community Impact award at the 2023 Geospatial Excellence Awards.
Since the app launched in June, it has been downloaded more than 23,000 times, resulting in a 3,700 per cent increase in reported koala sightings, and a 31 per cent increase in the past month.
Environment Minister Leanne Linard said, “Love might be in the air for koalas right now, but during breeding season they actually spend more time on the ground, which is where they are most vulnerable.
“With dog attacks and car strikes posing such a significant threat to this iconic species over the next few months, it is more important than ever for us all to do our part to keep koalas safe from cars and dogs, and to support the hardworking staff across the wildlife hospital network,” she said.
“Earlier this year, we launched the now award-winning Koala QWildlife app, which allows members of the public to act as citizen scientists by reporting koala sightings and providing accurate location and population data.
“With koalas now out looking for love, I encourage all Queenslanders to download this free app and report all koala sightings – hopefully in pairs!”
DES Southern Wildlife and Koala Operations Director Geoff Lundie-Jenkins said that koala breeding season is the busiest time of year for vets and wildlife carers.
“Some of the koalas that are brought in cannot be saved, and others require round-the-clock, intensive care and long periods of rehabilitation to allow them to be released back to the wild,” he said.
“With koalas facing additional challenges this summer as a result of the dry conditions, it is even more crucial for people to drive carefully, especially at night, and prevent dog attacks both in your yard and out on walks.
“The best thing the community can do to help us is prevent koalas from suffering these types of traumas and allow them to safely travel to find a mate or new territory.”