Cars and dogs threaten koalas in Australia

koala

Dogs could be banned from some south-east Queensland suburbs in a bid to protect at-risk koalas

Koalas in Queensland are under threat and the primary reasons are cars and dogs associated with urban development.  As the demand for residential development continues, the number of cars and dogs introduced into koala habitat increases.

According to the Queensland Department of Environment and Heritage Protection, approximately 110 koalas are attacked and killed by dogs each year.

Unlike in New Zealand, where the problem is free-roaming domestic cats attacking birds, most attacks on koalas occur in the dog’s backyard when the koala roams into their territory, particularly after dark when koalas are most active.  That’s a major reason why researchers are suggesting that an outright ban on dog ownership in some areas may be required.

koala-mother-and-baby

Of particular concern is an area known as The Koala Coast which is located 20 km south-east of Brisbane and covers an area of 375 km2 around Redland City, some of Logan City and the south-east section of Brisbane itself.  It is regarded nationally as one of the most significant koala populations because of its size and genetic structure.

There’s a definite risk that koalas may face extinction.  While I love dogs, I also love koalas and Australia would lose out on biodiversity as well as a national icon which generates many tourist dollars.

Under a directive from Environment Minister Steven Miles, a panel of koala experts – University of Queensland’s Associate Professor Jonathan Rhodes, Central Queensland’s Dr Alistair Melzer and Dreamworld’s Al Mucci – have convened to recommend last-ditch efforts to stop koala extinction.

Of their efforts, Dr Melzer has said, “The reality is this is crunch time for the koalas of the Koala Coast at least. The measures that have put in place to date – although extremely well-meant – just haven’t worked. So a radical re-thinking is needed and that is what the minister has initiated.”

The panel has also noted that there will be winners and losers from initiatives to save the koala and that may very well be dogs and dog ownership in these areas.  A sobering thought I’m sure for our Australian neighbours.

Source:  Sydney Morning Herald

Kathleen Crisley, specialist in dog massage, rehabilitation and nutrition/food therapy, The Balanced Dog, Christchurch, New Zealand

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