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Koalas being pushed to the brink

Helen Darbellay urges people to not forget about the hundreds of koalas orphaned each year. She is holding Zara while Wills looks on.
Helen Darbellay urges people to not forget about the hundreds of koalas orphaned each year. She is holding Zara while Wills looks on.

THE koala has been declared "vulnerable" on the Federal Government's threatened species lists, and Ipswich wildlife carers and activists hope the new classification attracts strong protective action.

Ipswich Koala Protection Society representative and koala rescuer Helen Darbellay said her team wanted the listing to cover all developments.

"If this federal listing comes with exemptions it's not going to be worth anything, because Ipswich's biggest stable koala population is near a proposed industrial estate and mine in Ebenezer," Ms Darbellay said.

"The numbers of koalas we rescue have been about 180 a year for the past few years, but what has changed is that our rescue jobs have moved further out.

"Some of the previous inner suburb populations in Goodna, Bellbird Park, Camira have been decimated."

Ms Darbellay said koalas were being wiped out in urban areas.

"Gailes had the highest population of koalas years ago, and now there's nothing."

"Now, most of our rescue cases come from Coominya and Esk; over the last year we've had a lot of cases that have been hit by cars or attacked by dogs out that way."

RSPCA Qld Wildlife Hospital vet Bonny Cumming said the animal refuge's move to Wacol allowed them to treat more koalas.

"We've got better facilities here. We used to transfer them, but we can give them support," Dr Cumming said.

"There's a mix of both injury and disease cases and we've treated animals that have had encounters with cars and dogs."

Dr Cumming said habitat destruction had to be curbed.

Ms Darbellay said there was no reason, "we can't have development progress and koalas".

"Developers need to be told they don't need to knock down all the trees on a site," she said.

"We've got koalas on the RAAF base and at Willowbank Raceway that are proof selective clearing works."

JUST HANG ON

The Federal Government lists the greatest threats to koalas as habitat loss, being hit by cars, disease, and predation by domestic dogs.

The koala population in south-east Queensland fell from 25,000 in 1990 to 15,000 in 2010.

Topics:  koala, threatened species, wildlife


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