Under Tweed Shire Council’s watch, over the last decade we have lost 50 per cent of our Tweed coast koalas. With an estimated 110 to 140 koalas left, there is no room for complacency if we are not only going to maintain koala residency, but also to increase numbers to a viable population size. This is the only way to stop localised koala extinction.
It is clear that council is unable to implement effective management actions to protect our resident source koala populations. An example of this is the plight of Black Rocks koalas where two individuals were euthanased this year due to the stress-related disease chlamydia, but council has failed to adopt measures to ensure there are no more deaths.
There is no point in embarking on highly commendable koala habitat regeneration projects if there are no koalas to take up residency. As stated in the Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study, ‘While transient koalas ultimately contribute to overall population size, the primary focus of conservation and management efforts must be to maintain residency’ (p60).
There are at least four individual koalas residing and breeding in the primary koala habitat trees adjacent to the Black Rocks sports field and access road site. However, council has decided to leave the recently installed koala/dog-proof gate open in daylight hours, even though they have received many reports of koalas sighted on the ground during the day on and either side of the access road.
Since the koala breeding season commenced in September, hoons and unleashed dogs have had easy access to the sports field. Over 180 golf balls were rained down on the sports field, targeting and damaging council infrastructure. Hundreds of screws were found along the full length of the access road, suggesting a deliberate attempt to puncture car tyres. There has been another attempted break and enter of the council shed.
Council’s answer to deterring these anti-social activities is to put a Men’s Shed on the site (which will operate about 12 hours a week). Council rangers and police have been unable to enforce compliance, so what hope will our often-vulnerable senior male citizens have? The answer is obvious: lock the vehicle access gate, which was installed for the purpose of protecting koalas (with a key issued to authorised personnel).
David Norris, Pottsville