Snapper was 'doubtful the furry figure was an actual koala'
THE Pioneer Valley man behind a viral snap of a koala perched atop a sugarcane bin mistook the marsupial for a "stuffed toy" at first glance.
Trent Jenner contacted The Daily Mercury to speak about the circumstances behind the grin-inducing photo, which has been shared several hundred times on Facebook.
"Cruising the valley. Never know who's out at night with a sneaky sugar addiction," he wrote last Friday.
Mr Jenner said he came across the koala - usually difficult to spot in the region - out near Septimus, relaxing in the middle of the road before it clambered on top of the bin.
"So about 10:30pm on Friday night, myself and a few friends were driving the back roads home when we came across this koala ... what I thought at first was it was a stuffed toy animal because it didn't move a wink when we drove around him," he said.
"It was sitting upright like an obedient dog begging for his next treat. Well, we had to spin around and check it out.
"I've spent my whole life in the Valley and have been lucky enough to see one before. (I spotted one) in Dows Creek only a year ago. I was doubtful this furry figure was an actual live koala."
Mr Jenner did a u-turn and double checked he had in fact sighted the koala.
"Sure enough this clean bright white bundle of fur was still there sitting on the bitumen, probably enjoying the warmth of the previous days sun still leaching out of the blue metal," he said.
"It stayed there for some time until we all agreed we should move it on, as it's only a matter of time until another vehicle comes along ...
"With not many trees nearby it just wandered over to the cane bins at the siding next to the road and climbed aboard."
Mr Jenner said he was concerned the koala might run into trouble at some stage if it remained on the bin, used to transport cane from farms to the mill.
"Knowing it was safe from the road but not safe from the rail, (I made) a quick phone call to the Mackay Sugar rail traffic controller to make sure they checked on the last bin before they took them," he said.
Mr Jenner joked the koala's could have a "bright future" as the "next cane inspector", though quipped "Maybe he is a little too 'over koala-fied'".
Unfortunately, Mr Jenner said he generally comes across "more dead koalas than live ones" in the Mackay region.'
"(It) shows the need to have more thought into highway upgrades and the need for wildlife crossing assistance in underpasses and overpasses," he said.
The koala did not actually eat any of the cane in the bin, Mr Jenner noted.
On Tuesday, CQUniversity Koala Research program leader Dr Alistair Melzer said koala numbers remain relatively healthy west of Mackay, in the Valley and the ranges.
It's in stark comparison to drastically reduced koala populations on the Mackay coast.
Report koala sightings to the Australian Wildlife Rescue Service on 0447 543 268, Fauna Rescue Whitsundays on 4947 3389 or the Department of National Parks on 13 74 68.