How would you feel if you killed a koala while driving on our roads? That must be the question at least two local people will be asking themselves after two of the Tweed’s koala population died from car strike in recent weeks.
As a result, Tweed Council has issued a press release begging drivers to take extra care on the roads, especially between dawn and dusk.
Last week a healthy adult male koala was struck by a car on Clothiers Creek Road and while the strike was reported and a Friends of the Koala volunteer rescued the injured animal, sadly it died a few days later.
The Caldera Environment Centre (CEC) said it was another step down the road toward the extinction of the Tweed’s koalas.
‘It’s not just koalas on the coast that are suffering,’ said CEC secretary Sam Dawson.
‘Koalas in rural areas are under pressure from private landholders clearing food-trees and who also let their dogs run rampant through the bushland. We have had several reports from Eungella where stressed koalas have been collected by the Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers after they have emerged from the bush from being chased by dogs in recently cleared areas. We have a low incidence of koala injury compared to other neighbouring shires, but this is only because we have such a tiny koala population.’
The previous week a koala was taken into care from North Tumbulgum, very thin and blind in one eye, probably from a car strike days before being found. It also died a day later.
Tweed Shire Council’s natural resource management project officer Sally Jacka said the koala found at north Tumbulgum may have been wandering around in pain for days.
‘And how many undiscovered cases, not just of koalas, but other wildlife as well, like this occur – we don’t know,’ Ms Jacka said.
‘Driver awareness, particularly between dusk and dawn, and responsible pet ownership are imperative if we are to save our koalas.’
The Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study (TCKHS) undertaken on behalf of Tweed Shire Council in 2011 estimated a population of approximately 144 koalas remaining on the Tweed coast, which may already be below the minimum viable population size required to sustain long-term population survival.
Last year Council received Environment Trust funding from the state government for the Koala Connections Project to improve koala habitat.
This project will now be expanded with a Biodiversity Fund grant of over $2 million from the federal government.
However, recovery potential is impeded by ongoing incidental mortality rates from incidents such as motor vehicle strikes and dog attacks.
If you see an injured or sick koala, please call Friends of the Koala on 02 6622 1233.
For all other native wildlife in the Tweed, call Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers on 02 6672 4789.
Both these community groups provide a 24-hour volunteer rescue service throughout the Tweed.