Thursday, 5 March 2015

Koalas could be culled in overpopulated areas to prevent starvation, says expert

Call to cull healthy koalas comes as the Victorian government reveals 700 sick and starving koalas were euthanised at Cape Otway in 2013 and 2014

Wednesday 4 March 2015 05.34 GMT

Australia needs to consider allowing healthy koalas to be euthanised in order to control numbers in overpopulated areas, where the animals risk dying painfully from starvation, a koala expert says.

Although not endangered in any state, koalas are listed as vulnerable in the eastern states of Queensland and New South Wales, where their habitat is dwindling.

But in parts of Victoria and South Australia, overpopulation of koalas has left them competing for food.

On Wednesday, the Victorian government confirmed almost 700 sick and starving koalas were euthanised at Cape Otway, in the state’s south-west, in 2013 and 2014.

A sustainable koala density in Victoria was considered to be less than one koala per hectare, but densities at Cape Otway had peaked at 20 per hectare, the state’s environment minister, Lisa Neville, said.

“This is a challenging and complex issue that we need to address humanely and effectively,” she said.

“We will be guided by the advice of experts in the field to assess the best options to prevent suffering and we will be open and transparent with the community whilst doing so.”

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