Health check and moves afoot for island koalas

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koalaFRENCH Island’s koalas are about to get a helping hand from Parks Victoria and government land and environment officers.

Over the next six weeks, vets and support staff will be catching koalas, assessing their health, and treating up to 400 females with a contraceptive implant to help stabilise the local population.

Thirty healthy koalas will be moved from the island to Tallarook, 100km north of Melbourne, to test the area’s suitability for more translocations.

“French Island’s koalas are currently in good health but, without intervention, their over-abundance will affect their welfare, ruin trees and destroy native habitat,” Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning regional director Kelly Crosthwaite said. “One koala per hectare is the ideal ratio for healthy koalas, yet the island’s density is estimated at up to eight koalas a hectare, leading to severe over-browsing and loss of habitat.

“Their over-abundance is due to several factors, including their chlamydia-free status and an absence of predators on the Island.

“If the current population continues to grow, the koalas will eat themselves out of house and home.

“Over the next six weeks, healthy female koalas will be caught and given a contraceptive implant which will prevent them from reproducing and released back at the site of their capture the same day.”

First published in the Western Port News – 4 October 2016

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