1080 DEBATE: Koala action group endorses dog control program
With the current discussion about 1080 baiting , the Koala Action Group would like to highlight another lesser known impact of wild dogs in our region.
Wild dogs kill koalas. Koalas are vulnerable to dog attacks as they move across the ground to change trees, to find a mate, or to find their new home range when they are old enough.
The more their habitat is fragmented or thinned, the more distance they need to cover , placing them at higher risk from predators.
How big is the problem for this vulnerable species? Locally we tend to know more about the domestic dog attacks on koalas, when the dogs' owners seek help from wildlife carers.
We have had 2 reports where the persons finding the dead koalas' remains were sure it was due to wild dogs. But the full extent of koala deaths to wild dogs is unknown.
However there is every reason to believe that the figures may be very worrying given what we see done to livestock, and some evidence that emerged recently from the monitoring of koalas as part of the largest and most comprehensive koala tracking program ever undertaken on the Moreton Bay Rail project, on the North side of Brisbane.
More than 400 koalas were fitted with electronic collars and tracked over two years. Around 130 were later found dead - mostly due to injuries from wild dogs.
I heard Veterinarian Dr John Hanger , a leader in koala research, present the findings. They were shocked by the figures and said "We had no idea that wild dogs had such a significant impact on the koala population." They found that not all were killed for food as some were simply killed and left.
So we, from the koala conservation perspective, strongly support efforts to eradicate wild dogs .
The koala is listed by Governments as 'vulnerable' to extinction if we do not make efforts to stop the decline in their numbers.
Without weighing in to the specific debate on the use of 1080, we welcome this discussion about the wild dog problem in our region.
One thing all agree on is a need to deal with the problem.
Co-Ordinator, Koala Action Group Gympie Region