It’s breeding season and the marsupials are on the move
There’s no doubt it can be exciting seeing a koala in the wild.
It can be even more surprising when you see one at your front door.
That’s what happened to Kelly Whalan, who looked out the glass front door of her home in Port Macquarie, on the New South Wales mid-north coast, to see a koala staring back.
It was nose to nose with her excited dogs, which were fortunately on the other side of the glass.
Cheyne Flannagan from the Koala Preservation Society Australia, said the koala who paid Ms Whalan’s home a visit looked like a healthy young male.
She said Ms Whalan’s dogs may have caught the koala’s attention.
“It probably saw some movement and decided to get up closer, to see what these funny animals are,” she said.
“Or who knows, maybe the koala saw a reflection of itself in the glass and thought it was another koala.”
Just south of Port Macquarie, workers at the Bonny Hills Garden Café also recently had a close encounter with a koala, which found itself well and truly in human territory.
Vicki works at the café and said the animal squeezed in through a fence.
“He climbed into the play area, then actually squeezed through the bars. I couldn’t believe it,” she said.
“I should have taken a video but I was too in awe of him in action.
“He hung around in the tree near us for a very long time after that, until I believe he got a girlfriend.”
Don’t approach a koala, no matter how cute it looks
Ms Flannagan said it’s not all that unusual for koalas to arrive in some strange places.
“Koalas just see any human obstacle as literally that, just an obstacle, so steps are probably just seen as rocks,” she said.
“We have seen koalas do some strange things.”
Ms Flannagan said while koalas looked cute and soft, at no time should they be approached.
“They look cute and cuddly [but] they are definitely not, and they’ve got a very sharp set of teeth and very sharp claws,” she said.
“Any wild animal that feels cornered or threatened will defend themselves, and that’s exactly what a koala will do.
“So for their sake, just leave them alone.”
Numbers are down this koala breeding season
Ms Flannagan said it was breeding season so koalas were on the move more than usual.
“It’s all happening now, but with the koalas on the coast in such big decline, the movement on the coast isn’t anywhere near as much as it was,” she said.
“Across NSW and Queensland the situation is quite dire for the koala population.”
The Koala Preservation Society also runs the Koala Hospital, based in Port Macquarie, which rescues and rehabilitates wild koalas from a variety of areas across New South Wales.
“Our koalas are in severe decline,” Ms Flannagan said.
“We have [had] about a third of the admissions this year that we usually have and there’s been this steady decline over the past five years, so the alarm bells are ringing here well and truly,” Ms Flannagan said.
Ms Flannagan said the Society wanted to create safe areas for koalas, away from major urban areas.
“The number one thing is literally to conserve habitat and plant more trees, but we are aiming to get koalas away from urban areas as much as possible,” she said.
“We don’t want them on the coast where all the housing development is, because it’s just lining them up for the firing squad these days, it’s just too busy.
“So to save the koala, it’s all about getting them away from people.”
PHOTO: A koala in Port Macquarie says hello to Jimmy, a sculpture which forms part of a Hello Koala public art trail in the region. The sculptures are being used to help raise awareness of the need to protect one of Australia’s national icons. (Supplied: Lindsay Moller Photography)
Earlier this year, the NSW Government announced a $45 million intervention package to protect the threatened koala population.
Almost 25,000 hectares of state forest on the state’s mid-north coast will become a koala habitat.