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Byron Shire
October 5, 2022

Want to save the koala? Slow down and keep your dogs inside

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Spring is in the air and koalas are on the move looking for a mate but that also puts them in danger from your car and your dogs. At least 30 koalas have been hit by cars or attacked by dogs across the Northern Rivers since mid-July and Friends of the Koala and Tweed Council are calling for people to slow down and contain their dogs overnight. 

Koalas are at their most mobile at this time of year as they actively search for mates and new habitat. However, as their habitat is small and fragmented, koalas are often forced to travel long distances on foot through urbanised areas, where they are at risk of being struck by a vehicle or attacked by a dog. They are often moving at dawn and dusk so drivers are being asked to keep a lookout for koalas on their properties and when driving, particularly between dusk and dawn.

Vehicle strikes ‘unprecedented’

Friends of the Koala veterinary surgeon Dr Jodie Wakeman said the recent number of vehicle strikes had been unprecedented.

‘Sadly, over the past two months Friends of the Koala has tended to 30 koalas across the Northern Rivers that have been hit by a car or attacked by a dog. Four of these were mothers with female baby joeys,’ Dr Wakeman said.

‘Although many of the adults unfortunately sustained fatal injuries, we have managed to save two of the joeys that are now recovering in homecare after treatment in hospital.

‘While admissions to our hospital and calls to our rescue hotline usually spike between July and December, recent numbers of car hits are unprecedented. We understand accidents happen, but we are urging members of the public to call our rescue hotline on 6622 1233 immediately to ensure injured koalas have the best chance of survival.’

A healthy female koala was seen climbing a tree in the Murwillumbah CBD in the early hours of Friday 16 September. The koala was captured by Friends of the Koala for a health check before release at a more suitable location nearby. Photo Kyiah Jones

Eight rescues in eight days

In August there were eight koala rescues in eight days in Tweed Shire said Marama Hopkins, Tweed Council’s Biodiversity Projects and Planning Officer.

‘Our local rescuers have had a particularly busy start to the season, with eight rescues within eight days in late August in the Tweed,’ Ms Hopkins said.

‘This included a fatal vehicle strike on Terranora Road. Losing yet another koala in this well-known koala zone, particularly a healthy young female, is devastating.

‘We need to be aware that koalas can turn up in the strangest of places and where we least expect them and take action as caretakers of our internationally significant environment to pass onto our next generation.’

Ms Hopkins said just last week (Friday 16 September), a koala was spotted climbing a tree in the Murwillumbah CBD – highlighting their mobility at this time of year.

Members of the public can help koalas by:

  • Containing dogs at night when koalas are most active.
  • Providing safe refuges for koalas in backyards such as a tree or climbing pole.
  • Observing koala road signs and driving slowly in known koala areas, taking into account there might be a koala on the road.
  • Reporting all koala sightings: sick, injured or distressed koalas immediately to the Friends of the Koala 24/7 rescue hotline on 6622 1233.
  • Sightings of healthy koalas can be reported at tweed.nsw.gov.au/koalas or at friendsofthekoala.org.

To find out more about the Tweed’s koalas visit tweed.nsw.gov.au/koalas.

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    • Plenty of koala trees in Kyogle LGA and very few koalas.

      Clearly the problem is not logging a small proportion of trees for timber, is it?


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