Koalas continue clawing back in Moreton Bay, despite national decline

Published 30 June 2022

Endeavour Veterinary Ecology

With koalas now officially listed as endangered along Australia’s east coast, Moreton Bay Council is hoping its successful koala conservation program will pique national interest.

Endeavour Veterinary Ecology’s (EVE) pioneering work at The Mill PDA has seen the local koala population more than doubled in the past five years, and Councillors recently approved the company’s contract extension.

Mayor Peter Flannery said he was thrilled to announce the company’s contract had been extended as part of Budget 2022-23.

“EVE’s program has proven to be a remarkable case study in how koalas can successfully coexist alongside development and I really hope the nation sits up and takes notice of what we’re doing here,” Mayor Flannery said.

“I am proud to say that no koalas have been killed or injured as a result of construction work at The Mill at Moreton Bay but it’s a bittersweet success, because there’s just so much more to be done.

“Extending EVE’s contract means they’ll be on site to monitor koalas during earthmoving and tree planting operations, as we transform a degraded section of the site into future bushland habitat.

“I genuinely believe Moreton Bay can become the koala cradle of SEQ as part of our ‘Going Green As We Grow’ mantra, because accommodating growth in the human population cannot come at the expense of our koala population.”

EVE Director Jon Hanger said his team’s work at The Mill at Moreton Bay combined cutting-edge tracking technology and veterinary management.

“We captured, treated and monitored koalas, administered a vaccine to reduce the impact of chlamydia, and kept an eye out for key threats such as dogs and cars,” he said.

“With a doubling of the koala population every four years or so, the approach is now a proven means of recovering at-risk and declining koala populations and offers a model for managing other wildlife populations with similar declines and threat of extinction.”

Mayor Flannery said all Councillors had advocated for greater environmental measures in this year’s Budget, promising locals could expect a green theme for years to come.

“That’s why this Budget we increased our environment charge up to $22 per annum, to help fund initiatives like our land buyback program which is acquiring strategic parcels of habitat to prevent them from being developed,” he said.

“We have set ourselves some important goals to make sure we minimise habitat loss, establish and connect habitat areas, use more koala-friendly design principles, monitor koalas and manage threats to their safety.

“Council avoids the removal of trees at all costs during the construction phase of Council projects, and if we can’t avoid removing a habitat tree, we plant three habitat trees in its place.

“With koala breeding season starting tomorrow, we are also working to educate Moreton Bay residents about what they can do to protect koalas, such as planting koala-friendly trees, building koala-friendly fencing and pools, controlling dogs and slowing down on our roads, particularly in bushland areas between dusk and dawn.

“Males are already on the move and we’ve already seen a number hit by cars, so we need drivers to slow down!”

Council also approved a grant of $18,700 to the RSPCA for Operation Wanted, a desexing program for cats and dogs that aims to reduce the number of homeless and unwanted animals in the community, and promotes responsible pet ownership.

Unfortunately, dog attacks are one of the biggest threats to koalas.

Operation Wanted was successful in the Moreton Bay Region in 2020 and 2021, with 17 vet clinics involved in the program and a combined total of 2770 dogs and 1404 cats desexed in the two-year period.

For more information about koalas across the Moreton Bay Region, visit the Council website.