Funding fails to find furry friend
DISEASES in koalas will come under the microscope with the State Government spending $400,000 on research.
But the Wildlife Preservation Society Fraser Coast branch is not too happy about the announcement.
Branch president Cliff Greet said the society was “totally disappointed” with the funding because it meant nothing for koalas living locally.
“Again they keep referring to south-east Qld so all the money goes to south of Gympie,” Mr Greet said. “It’s good news for koalas in south-east Qld but for koalas on the Fraser Coast it’s the same old, same old.”
Climate Change and Sustainability Minister Kate Jones announced the funding at the beginning of December as part of the government’s koala response strategy.
“Disease, along with habitat loss and deaths caused by dogs and cars, is a contributing factor in the decline in koala populations in south-east Qld,” Ms Jones said.
“The stress caused by habitat loss, dogs and cars can make koalas susceptible to a variety of diseases, such as chlamydia.”
In January, the Department of Environment and Resource Management will call for expressions of interest through a tendering process with organisations, including universities, able to put up their hands to carry out research.
The research will lead to better on-ground management of koalas in the south-east corner of the state, Ms Jones says.
She said animal hospital records over the past 12 years showed an average of more than 250 koalas per year died from disease.
“The biggest killer is chlamydia,” Ms Jones added. “This is a disease which also causes infertility and the eye infection conjunctivitis which, in turn, can lead to blindness and death.”
DERM failed to comment on why funding was only being spent in south-east Qld; however threatened species director Rebecca Williams said key outcomes from the research were expected to benefit koalas across the state.
Mr Greet was not sure the exact number of koalas on the Fraser Coast because of a lack of habitat mapping but said they were known to be in Tinana and Booral.
He said he would like the State Government to engage with the Fraser Coast Regional Council to ensure local koala numbers did not dwindle as they had in the south-east.
Opposition climate change and sustainability spokesperson Glen Elmes said the 2009 RSPCA koala count revealed a drop of almost 15 per cent in koala numbers across the south-east compared to 2007.MARSUPIAL MONEY
The State Government will spend $400,000 on a Koala Disease Research Fund
The money will be allocated through an open, competitive funding round
It is aimed to halt the decline of koala populations in south-east Qld
DERM says disease accounts for nearly 50 per cent of mortality recorded by the koala hospitals in south-east Qld, with 34 per cent due to cars and 10 per cent due to dogs
The most significant diseases are caused by chlamydia, which can lead to infertility, blindness and death