Replacing trees eaten by hungry koalas

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Description of outcomes and plans of Koala Management Program

The KI Koala Management Program is gearing up for another successful catch season over summer. Last year over 450 female koalas were sterilised with a similar number expected this summer in an effort to keep numbers down and restore habitats.

Koalas are not native to Kangaroo Island and were introduced from Victoria in the 1920s. Culling of koalas is not permitted under the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2009–2014.

The Koala program has been running every year since 1996 and has reduced the koala population on Kangaroo Island from an estimated 27,000 in 2001 to 13,000 in 2010. Over 11,000 koalas have been sterilised in this period, 3,800 of which have been moved off the island back to their original habitat near Mount Gambier. In addition, over 9,000 trees have been planted on KI to restore habitats lost through overbrowsing.

Natural Resources KI thanks all landholders who have allowed access to their properties for management. Landholders are reporting that their trees are looking a lot healthier in the past five years from the reduction in koala numbers. However, there are areas where access can’t be gained for management. This may create breeding pockets from which koalas disperse to neighbouring properties. Natural Resources KI would like to request as much cooperation as possible from all landholders to ensure investment in the Koala Program results in the desired outcome of maintaining a low density population of koalas on KI, so that they are still around for people to enjoy but do not have undesirable impacts on native trees.

Wildlife Program Manager Robyn Molsher explained the need for the program to continue,‘It is important to maintain sterilisation of a small proportion of the population to ensure numbers do not increase again, to the detriment of Kangaroo Island’s native vegetation’.

If anyone has noticed severe overbrowsing impacts on their property or would like more information about the program please contact us.

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