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Koalas in Victoria: Just how bad can it get?

Life on land

“Unintentional wildlife collisions are not a breach of the Wildlife Act 1975 and any questions regarding wildlife crossings and speed limits on Victorian roads should be directed to the Department of Transport and Planning". Victorian Government

Peter and Andrea Hylands

February 13, 2024
“For three years rescuers, advocates and locals have lobbied the government to relocate a colony of Koalas from a bluegum plantation in Gordon in Western Victoria”. Jessica Robertson, wildlife rescuer and carer, Ballarat, Victoria

On 11 February 2024 the last of 8 Koalas that lived on the Gordon bluegum plantation, at least 5 of which had been ‘surveyed’ by the Victorian Government at the now largely cleared plantation area, are now all dead. The Koala deaths, all horrific, occurred on the adjacent freeway.

These ‘surveys’ by the Victorian Government were accompanied by the Victorian Government’s refusal for wildlife rescuers to relocate the Koalas. The relocation was refused by the government’s environment department on the grounds of animal welfare, so as not to stress the Koalas. This is of course complete nonsense and is yet another example among many of the Victorian Government’s policy of blocking and frustrating Australian wildlife rescues in that state.

"With growing media attention, the harvest was delayed for 14 months and the harvester announced to the media that they were applying for a permit to relocate the Koalas.  This was welcome news to advocates but during that time rescuers reported four Koalas killed on the freeway near the plantation. It was feared too little too late for these Koalas". Jessica Robertson

The now total lack of leadership regarding outcomes for Australian wildlife in the state will mean these terrible events, among many others, will go unpunished, enabling and empowering those who are responsible for the outcomes described here, to continue their egregious conduct in relation to these matters.

"On 27 December 2023, the operator of the Gordon plantation notified the Conservation Regulator that harvesting operations at the site had been completed. The Conservation Regulator has no evidence to suggest any deceased Koalas found on the Western Highway are linked to the Koalas previously surveyed during and after harvest operations”. Victorian Government

This region of Victoria is to the west of Melbourne, a region that has become a Koala killing hotspot. The statement below is from the Victorian Government (5 December 2023):

“The Conservation Regulator is aware of community concern regarding a population of Koalas near the Gordon township. Translocation of wildlife can cause significant stress, injury and potential death to wildlife. That is a key reason the Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action generally does not support translocation of non-threatened species. It was also a key factor in the Conservation Regulator decision not to issue a permit to translocate Koalas at the Gordon site. The alternative, leaving the Koalas in place during and after plantation harvest, allows them to stay or move naturally to their preferred location”. Victorian Government

The outcome, of this yet again appalling conduct by the Victorian Government and its refusal to allow the translocation of Koalas from the Gordon plantation, was always obvious. The outcome is precisely as we had expected it to be, Koalas struck and killed by motorists as they crossed the freeway (motorway) in attempted to escape the destruction of their habitat.

Read this story in conjunction with Pandora’s Box: Koalas in Victoria and Koalas in Zoos Victoria care 2018-2023, both stories can be found in the Earth section of the Nature Knowledge Channel.

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