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Carer confirms koala rescues are rising in Lockyer

Hatton Vale Koala carer Marilyn Spletter days there is a koala crisis in the Lockyer, with the number of rescues rising.
Hatton Vale Koala carer Marilyn Spletter days there is a koala crisis in the Lockyer, with the number of rescues rising. Francis Witsenhuysen

TO TOP off a recent report highlighting the decline in koala populations across the state, wildlife carer Marilyn Spletter says koala rescues are on the rise in the Lockyer Valley.

The report by RSPCA and WWF Australia shows the worsening impact of tree-clearing across the east coast, which is putting koala populations under pressure.

The report also found koala numbers have declined in Queensland by 53% in three generations.

Mrs Spletter said she handled most of the koala rescues in the Lockyer Valley for the Ipswich Koala Protection Society.

"There is definitely a koala crisis and I'm not surprised the population is declining,” she said.

"The amount of rescues I do has doubled in the area since I moved out to Hatton Vale seven years ago.

"They are mainly from dog attacks, cars and disease, which they develop due to lack of habitat - they are starving.”

She had a strong message to property developers in the region.

"Developers need to leave a corridor of trees for the koalas to get through,” Mrs Spletter said.

"That will stop koalas going into people's yards and getting attacked by dogs.

"People need to realise they can't just chop down trees that have been there for 200 years and it be all right.”

Mrs Spletter said often people didn't know there were koalas in the area.

"More people are moving out here and the population is increasing, some people I've spoken to have no idea they are around,” she said.

"They come out with their two dogs, two trail bikes, four-wheel drives and that impacts on the koalas' habitat.

"More education on koalas would also help the situation.”

Koalas have a homing territory and without enough eucalypt trees, more are being forced onto the ground and onto roads.

"When we get them, they go to the hospital and then we get to release them, but we must release them within 5km of where they came from,” Mrs Spletter said.

"If they are relocated somewhere else they walk around in circles and don't eat, starve and die.

"If it's virgin bush a male Koala has a 50km radius of homing range and will service the females in that area, while females don't seem to travel as far and will only travel as far as the next good leaf.”

Mrs Spletter has more than 20 years experience in caring for Koalas and possums. She has volunteered at Moggill Koala Hospital for 25 years and has been vice president of Ipswich Koala Preservation Society for eight years.

The koala was listed as "vulnerable” under the Environmental Protection and Biodiversity Act in 2012 and the Australian Koala Foundation recently estimated there are fewer than 80,000 in Australia today.

If you see a koala injured or on the road, phone the Ipswich Koala Protection Society on 0419760127 or Australian Rescue and Rehabilitation of Wildlife on 0430904415.

Topics:  ipswich koala protection society koalas lockyer valley marilyn spletter rspca


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