Friday, October 12, 2012

Killing me softly

from w
There's a big problem in the Otways as the koalas in one area are killing the trees and now the animals themselves may be starving and dying. Solutions put forward are to remove them to a new location, or to cull them. Culling means killing of course. We are sentimental about these creatures, they seem fluffy and cuddly, but of course the aren't that cute, but we still don't want to see a cull.
From the Geelong Advertiser:
THE overpopulation of koalas in Cape Otway has prompted fears that they will either have to "move on or starve to death".
Deakin University wildlife and conservation biologist Dr Desley Whisson said there would be an "imminent" crash in the area's koala population, which has risen to several thousand after 80 were relocated from French Island in 1980.
"Some will be so weak that they can't climb. They're stuck until a dog gets them or something," Dr Whisson said.
But Parks Victoria and the Department of Sustainability and Environment moved to allay those concerns yesterday in a statement, saying "koalas are thought to be at low risk of starvation" in Cape Otway.
Local businessman Frank Fotinas, who took the Geelong Advertiser on a tour of Cape Otway this week, said locals were concerned about malnutrition and thought culling could be a solution.

Your Say

"Ecosystems are rarely simple and this situation is no different - the dynamics of koala habitat decline are extremely complex. The Conservation Ecology Centre at Cape Otway is researching the issue and carrying out on ground actions to restore the habitat. For more information see Lizzie Corke, CEO Conservation Ecology Centre"
Lizzie Corke
But culling is strictly prohibited under a federal koala strategy.
Mr Fotinas, who has run the Bimbi Park camping site for seven years, said the koalas are "eating the manna gum trees to death".
He said dozens of the native trees were dead, unable to cope with the rapidly expanding koala population.
Mr Fotinas said the koalas seemed to be getting "much skinnier" as their primary food source was reduced, and that his attempts to raise the issue with authorities had "gone in the 'too hard' basket".
Other locals also told the Geelong Advertiser they had seen koalas suffering from malnutrition, but Parks Victoria and the DSE said "koalas in poor condition have not been observed".
Dr Whisson said there were 17 koalas a hectare in Cape Otway, up from 10 a hectare when she started her research in 2008.
"This is the highest figure I've ever seen, and probably one of the highest on record," said Dr Whisson.
Parks Victoria and the DSE said the koalas were at "low risk of starvation" because of the large numbers of blue gum trees also available for food.
Dr Whisson said the koalas could eat blue gum leaves but that they preferred manna gum leaves and "may not think about moving until it's too late".
"They can eat manna gum for longer without getting sick ... because they have low levels of the toxins that are meant to stop animals from eating them," she said. "Blue gums are much harder to climb ... and their leaves have higher levels of those toxins."
Parks Victoria and the DSE said information was being gathered to assess the problem and this would "inform future actions if required". They said management options, including relocation and contraception to reduce breeding, "present problems that need to be assessed".
Dr Whisson agreed, and said "sterilising or translocating just won't work" because of the size of the population.
Mr Fotinas and other locals said culling should be considered.
"Those in the city wouldn't vote for it - they say the koalas are too cute and cuddly," Mr Fotinas said.


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