‘Heartbreaking loss’ as mum and bub koalas die on road
GYMPIE Region koala conservationists and wildlife rescue volunteers are feeling "gutted" by the vehicle-strike death of a mum and baby koala on the Kia Ora section of Tin Can Bay Rd.
Koala Action Group member and Goomboorian resident Robyn Jackson said the two healthy koalas were a sad loss to the breeding population, which residents have worked hard to protect.
The latest deaths occurred near Priddy Rd, some metres inside the flashing koala signs which have been erected at the roadside.
"This was on top of domestic dogs killing a koala in a backyard in another part of the region nine days earlier," she said.
Ms Jackson said she received an early morning call on Thursday, telling her there were two dead koalas on the road.
"Our hearts sank. We knew of the beautiful mum and baby koala often seen at Bill Roddau Park there," she said.
It was her sad duty then to remove the bodies from the road.
"From the extent of the damage we think a truck has hit them, probably in the hour or so before the 6am call-out.
"The adult koala would have been carrying her large baby on her back. It is just so sad-this baby would have been very close to being independent.
"Tragically another Kia Ora koala was hit by a vehicle nine days earlier," she said.
Cooloola Cove resident Donna Douglas found that one along Priddy Rd. at 7.30pm on December 3.
"She saw the injured koala in the middle of the bridge just below the Silky Oak Tea Gardens."
Wildlife carer Paula Rowlands said the deaths followed a string of equally traumatic cases, including some caused by domestic dog attacks.
"If you live in a koala area, don't assume a koala will not enter your backyard just because it is fenced, as koalas will often find a way in or over.
"By having our dogs confined at night, any koala visiting or passing through at night will be safe," she said.
Koala Action Group Co-ordinator Michelle Daly said 'The loss of two female koalas and their joeys across the region in the past fortnight has been particularly distressing and a real blow to conservation efforts. That's four healthy koalas lost to koala populations that are really just hanging in there.'
Michelle said that one of their group members often photographs the koalas she sees at Kia Ora. This photo taken six weeks ago is possibly the pair that was hit.
The group member said "This is especially sad as I have seen the joy of locals and tourists alike when they have been lucky enough to see a koala in the wild here
"We really need the speed limit lowered to 80km/h in this koala hotspot area, even if only in the koala breeding season.
"There is so much traffic on that road, so many trucks.
The group and locals had lobbied the Transport and Main Roads Department and been told the department considers the existing 100km/h limit appropriate.
"Local residents will be devastated by these losses. The flashing signs are there to try to keep koalas safe by warning motorists that there is a local koala population there that uses that road.
"We are pleading with drivers to slow their speed accordingly, look out and please call if a koala is hit."
Resident Joseph Van Haren whose property spans both sides of the road between the flashing koala signs said, "In a couple of weeks we get the tourists influx going to Rainbow and Fraser … what chance does a koala have on that road?"
Paula Rowlands said wildlife carers were seeing many diseased and drought affected koalas.
"We can't afford to be losing these healthy ones. We need them to keep the koala populations going," Mrs Rowlands said.