Two healthy koalas have been killed by dogs on the East Lismore campus of Southern Cross University leading to calls for people to take responsibility for their dogs and not let them roam off their properties.
‘The first [koala killed] was a healthy young female who clearly had a joey but the joey couldn’t be located and it was quite probably taken by the dog that had attacked its mother,’ said Friends of the Koala (FoK) president Ros Irwin.
‘The second was a young, healthy male killed on the campus on Monday, and when we carried out a necropsy several white hairs were located in its front claws, demonstrating that it fought back and may well have inflicted an injury on the dog. Regardless, it would have died slowly and in incredible pain,’ she said.
Southern Cross University has a significant population of healthy koalas on the campus and prides itself on being ‘committed to a nation-leading approach to koala protection and conservation in association with Friends of the Koala and the Koala Care Centre,’ said Vice Chancellor Adam Shoemaker.
The University has said they will re-install signs excluding dogs from the campus – unless they are on a leash – soon and Mr Shoemaker has asked that ‘all those who use the Lismore campus to walk freely through it but to ensure that all pets are leashed and under total control.’
According to FoK it takes only one tooth from a dog puncturing through the skin to kill a koala. The puncture bite will cause septicaemia (blood poisoning) within 12 hours of the koala is not treated.
They believe that it is not leashed dogs but dogs that are allowed to roam off their owner’s property unsupervised that have recently killed the koalas.
‘We’ve had stray dogs at the care centre and after restraining the dogs, we’ve called Lismore Council on several occasions and on each occasion council staff recognised the animals and returned them to their owners advising them not to let the dogs roam,’ said Ms Irwin.
Roaming domestic animals is a significant problem not just in Lismore but also in the hinterland throughout the Northern Rivers said one local who asked not to be named.
‘Increasingly city people have moved into our bush areas and many of these newcomers do not understand the devastation their dogs and cats cause to the bush wildlife. Owners think it is fine to let their cats and dogs roam at will with no regard to what they are chasing, attacking and generally worrying.
‘There has been an obvious reduction of sightings of wallabies, possums, goannas, blue tongue lizards and koalas among others in recent years in the hinterland. I would urge anyone noticing straying cats and dogs to report them to our green Council who will take positive action.’
Restrain your pets
FoK are asking anyone who owns a dog to make sure they keep it restrained or contained on their property so that they are not in a position to attack koalas or other wildlife.
‘Any koala death is sad for us, but particularly when the koalas are young and healthy, as these are the ones that are so important for the future survival of the species,’ said Ms Irwin.
‘For our volunteers, who have to handle all the koalas we rescue, a death caused by a dog attack is the most difficult and it’s a very emotional issue.
‘We’re asking residents to keep an eye on their animals, particularly in known koala areas such as around the University in East Lismore. Koalas are so vulnerable and we know that most residents want to do what they can to help prevent needless deaths.’