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Keeping KI's koalas under control

News article |

Koala sterilisation and management on Kangaroo Island

The KI Koala Management Program has exceeded its annual target of 400 sterilised koalas, sterilising 475 females over the recent catching season between November 2014 and April 2015.

The aim of the koala program is to prevent over-browsing of Kangaroo Island’s native vegetation by keeping the koala population at a sustainable level (<1 koala/ha).

Koalas are not native to Kangaroo Island, they were introduced from Victoria in the 1920s. Since the program began in 1996, more than 11,000 koalas have been sterilised with 3,800 of them having been moved off the island back to their original habitat near Mount Gambier. The island’s koala population has been reduced from an estimated 27,000 in 2000 to 13,000 in 2010. Another estimate of the population will be obtained later this year to determine if the downward trend has continued.

It is critical to maintain sterilisation of a certain proportion of the population to ensure numbers do not increase again and to protect habitats, especially along rivers where over-browsing of manna and blue gums is especially noticeable. It is also important to prevent koalas from establishing in the Dudley Peninsula and to monitor densities in blue gum plantations.

The koala crew has been trialling innovative and non-invasive ways to catch koalas in trees that are difficult to climb, such as in blue gum plantations. The cage trap had a 100 percent success rate in the trials.

The Kangaroo Island community has generally been very supportive of the program and Natural Resources Kangaroo Island thanks all landholders who have provided access to their properties for koala management. If anyone has noticed over-browsing impacts on their property, or sees koalas on the Dudley Peninsula, please contact the natural resources centre .

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