475 female koalas sterilised on Kangaroo Island

TAGGED KOALA: The latest census has estimated there are about 49,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island in native vegetation and blue gum plantations. Photo: Ross Evans

TAGGED KOALA: The latest census has estimated there are about 49,000 koalas on Kangaroo Island in native vegetation and blue gum plantations. Photo: Ross Evans

The Kangaroo Island Koala Management Project has completed its latest koala catch season, sterilising 475 females since November 2017.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island Wildlife Program manager Dr Robyn Molsher thanked all landholders who participated in the program and allowed access to their properties.

”While the sterilisation program has reduced the worst effects of koala over-browsing by targeting heavily populated areas, more work is needed to reduce the birth rate and thus the total population,” Dr Molsher said.

“The latest census has estimated there are about 25,000 koalas in native vegetation and another 24,000 koalas in the Island’s commercial blue gum plantations. 

“The population increase is most likely due to favourable weather conditions, lower sterilisation rates that were adjusted in response to lower koala densities and the reduced vegetation damage noted in the 2010 census, and commercial blue gum plantations providing additional habitat for koalas. 

“While the total koala number on the Island has increased, half the koala population is located in habitats that remain at locally sustainable densities.”

Funding is being sought from a range of potential partners to continue with koala management on the Island and to increase sterilisation in response to the more recent census data. 

The Department for Environment and Water (DEW) is trialling the use of hormone implants that can be delivered to koalas at the base of trees, which could make sterilisation more efficient and less stressful to koalas.

It is hoped that this method can be applied more broadly across the landscape should the trials be successful.

DEW is working collaboratively across the state to ensure that koala management is as cost effective as possible.

Fertility control remains the primary koala management tool available in South Australia as culling is not permitted in any state of Australia.

If you have any questions please contact the natural resources centre in Kingscote on 8553 4444 or visit http://www.naturalresources.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland/plants-and-animals/native-animals/koala-management 

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