As if our wildlife didn’t have enough to contend with because of fire and drought, some humans are destroying healthy koala food trees on purpose.
Lismore City Council is currently investigating the illegal poisoning of a mature Tallowwood koala food tree and a Bloodwood tree in a neighbourhood park in Fischer Street, Goonellabah.
Environmental Strategies Officer Wendy Neilan said the poisoning of the habitat trees is heartbreaking.
‘Koala scats that we found under the Tallowwood when we inspected the trees confirm that this is core habitat for local koalas.
‘Koalas are very particular about the eucalypt leaves they eat with only a few species providing a suitable food resource. Tallowwood is one of their preferred food trees.’
The trees are estimated to be between 80 to 100 years old. Koalas, tawny frogmouths and wallabies are regularly seen in this small patch of urban bushland.
Ms Neilan says koalas are vulnerable to extinction in NSW and we are very fortunate here in Lismore to be home to a significant koala population. ‘Our local populations are all the more precious given the devasting estimated losses of koalas in South East Australia due to recent bushfires.
‘Mature habitat trees that are dotted throughout our urban landscape in parks and backyards are essential for koala survival,’ said Ms Neilan. ‘By virtue of their size, these old trees provide more food and nesting resources than younger trees. These mature trees are vital to maintaining the biodiversity in our urban landscape.
‘Many Australian native animals such as possums, gliders, antechinuses, wood ducks, rosellas, cockatoos, owls and microbats are reliant on tree hollows for a place to roost and raise their young.’
Council’s Environmental Health Compliance Officer Stuart Thomson said drill holes used to poison the trees were found at the base of the two trees last December. ‘Besides their importance to our native animals, these trees created shade for a children’s playground,’ he said.
‘It is hard to fathom why anyone would do this. It is as an unlawful act of vandalism that destroys habitat and a community asset.’
Damaging habitat of threatened species carries a hefty fine and can attract a jail term.
Anyone with information can call council anonymously on 1300 87 83 97 or the NSW Environment Line on 131555.