Victorian Government vets and wildlife officers
will return to Cape Otway on the 21st of September to carry out two weeks of welfare actions
to manage and protect the local koala population. The welfare actions will include assessing
the health of three to four hundred koalas, euthanasing unhealthy koalas to prevent suffering,
fertility control in healthy females and conducting a trial translocation of 30 koalas to test
the suitability of other local habitat. These actions are being conducted following
the health assessment in May, which resulted in 29 out of 100 koalas being euthanased due
to poor health. Further advice and consultation was sought with a panel of animal welfare
and ecology experts on short- and long-term actions to ensure the overabundant koalas
are managed as effectively and humanely as possible.
As a complimentary action the Victorian Government will now allow suitably qualified zoos and
wildlife parks to re-home orphaned backyoung koalas whose mothers are euthanased due to
poor health. The Victorian Government is also jointly leading
the development of national translocation guidelines to assess the potential impact
of moving koalas from overabundant populations to areas in other states where koalas are
in decline. Overabundance of koalas at Cape Otway is a
complex long-term issue brought about by their love of Manna Gums, their reluctance to change
food source, favourable climatic conditions and absence of predators.
The results from the koala health assessment and habitat surveys conducted in May show
that we need to continue taking action to manage the population. These actions include
fertility control of healthy females, looking for opportunities to translocate koalas and
enabling zoos and wildlife parks to re-home orphaned joeys.
The department would like to thank the Cape Otway community, especially local landholders,
businesses and the Conservation Ecology Centre, who are working with us and providing local
knowledge and support.