Protecting the island’s unique vegetation through koala management

News article |

The Kangaroo Island Koala Management Program is gearing up to catch and sterilise another 400 female koalas this season.

Koalas are not native to KI and were introduced to Kangaroo Island from Victoria in the 1920s and culling is not permitted under the National Koala Conservation and Management Strategy 2009-2014.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island has led the way in refining the current management approach and is now being asked to share its learnings with other regions and states.

Wildlife Program Manager Robyn Molsher said in the Victorian Otway region, over-browsing has had devastating effects on manna gum vegetation communities.

‘I witnessed large areas of dead manna gums and many starving koalas, we cannot afford to become complacent on KI,’ Ms Molsher said.

The program has been running since 1996 and has sterilised more than 12,000 koalas, reducing the population from an estimated 27,000 in 2001 to 13,000 at the last census.

Success is due to the cooperation of many landholders who recognize the importance of the program and allow the koala management team access to their land, facilitating ongoing control of the koala population.

‘It is critical to continue the sterilisation program to reduce numbers across the landscape’, Ms Molsher said.

‘Koala numbers could double again within four years, undoing the progress made to date’.

‘We are hoping the 2015 census demonstrates a further decrease in the koala population, however, numbers are on the increase within blue-gum plantations and on some private properties’

The Koala Management Program would like to target these breeding hot spots to prevent habitat loss from over-browsing.

‘If you see an increased koala presence on your property, please contact the koala management team,’ Ms Molsher said.

‘We are also happy to chat to landholders who have further questions about the program or any reservations about allowing the koala management team on their property’.

To report severe over-browsing please contact Ms Molsher on 08 8553 4444.

For more information about the program please visit http://www.landscape.sa.gov.au/ki/plants-and-animals/native-animals/koala-management or join the next ‘science in the pub’ session at the Aurora Ozone Hotel on the 10 December at 5.30pm.

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