Koalas face warm weather carnage
WARMER-than-usual winter weather and increased development have spelt disaster for Brisbane's urban koalas with RSPCA rescuers being called out up to three times a night in a horror start to the annual "spring trauma season''.
Staff at the RSPCA's wildlife hospital at Wacol usually brace themselves for an increase in koala trauma from late August and September through to January.
But this year the carnage started in July and is increasing, according to RSPCA wildlife hospital manager Lee Pirini.
"It's not unusual to be called out up to three times a night to particular koala hot spots in and around Brisbane," Lee said.
She said it was wrong to assume there were no koalas in Brisbane's southern suburbs.
More than 75 koalas have been admitted to the hospital since the start of July after trauma injuries received in areas including Creek Rd (near Richmond Rd), Cannon Hill; Creek Road (at Mt Gravatt); Pine Mountain Rd (at Whites Hill); Tones Rd, (at Mansfield); Boundary Rd, (at Camp Hill); Mt Gravatt Rd, (at Wishart) and the Mt Gravatt on-ramp to the Southeast Freeway at Klumpp Rd.
The koalas are more active than usual, with the warm weather particularly encouraging males to make an early start to their search for a mate.
Lee has urged drivers to take note of the koala and wildlife warning signs along many suburban roads and slow down, particularly at night.
The RSPCA's wildlife hospital staffed by veterinarians, nurses and volunteers is where 21,000 injured wildlife animals ended up last year.
That figure has more than doubled in recent years, with 7-8000 animals recorded for 2015.
Lee said there were compounding reasons for the increased numbers.
Continued loss of trees in areas known to be frequented by koalas, trauma from dog attacks and being hit by cars were the main drivers of injury figures for the southside urban koalas.
The hospital team often had to deal with grim numbers of euthanasias due to the nature of the trauma injuries, but they also had a strong record of complete rehabilitation for many animals and the quicker the animals were admitted to the hospital, the better their chances.
Some of the survivors continue their lives under supervision and may be given homes in zoos or wildlife facilities, but there were many also released after successful treatment and returned to natural bush homes.
Lee said the hospital was open 24 hours for all wildlife and urged anyone who hit a koala or found injured or displaced wildlife to ring the wildlife hospital as quickly as possible.
All the wildlife admitted had a complete veterinary diagnostic assessment and prognosis to make sure those that did return to the wild could survive and thrive.
Koalas and other wildlife benefited from purpose-built bridges and underpasses on busy roads, but there were not enough around Brisbane's busy urban koala routes, Lee said.
"Of the 338 koalas admitted last year there were 110 released after rehabilitation," she said.
The RSPCA Wildlife Hospital has admitted 22,860 wildlife patients across Queensland in the past year, including native birds, possums, echidnas, koalas, joeys and snakes.
To call the animal wildlife rescue team, phone 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625)