Cheryl Goodenough JULY 15 2019 – 2:30PM
REPORT SIGHTINGS: The Koala Action Group asks for sightings of koalas to be reported via its website koalagroup.asn.au. Photo: Koala Action Group
IN A tragic start to the breeding season, four koalas have been killed this month on the train line between Wellington Point and Ormiston.
Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said that Queensland Rail needed to take action urgently after the tragic deaths of the three healthy adult koalas and a joey.
“It is a terrible loss to the urban koala population in the Redlands (and) a particularly bad beginning to the breeding season,” she said.
Queensland Rail chief executive Nick Easy said QR had recently installed more than 300 metres of koala exclusion fencing at Wellington Point, and a further 300 metres was being installed, to reduce the risk of koalas approaching the rail corridor.
“Our maintenance teams carry out fence inspections daily, with the entirety of the Cleveland line checked approximately every month,” he said.
Cr Wendy Boglary said one of two adult females that died was being tracked as part of Redland City Council’s koala conservation program.
Ms Pointing said that fences along train tracks needed to be better maintained to help prevent koalas going onto the tracks. There was also a need for safe passageways for koalas.
“We need urgent action to fix up holes in fences, especially as we are at the beginning of the big movement season,” she said.
- Also read: Redland City Council installs first Koala Conservation Safe Neighbourhood signs at Ormiston
Ms Pointing said long-term solutions could include fauna exclusion fencing to prevent koalas from climbing fences and instead guide them into underground passes.
Mr Easy said that QR was aware of the risk associated with koala movements near the Cleveland line.
CALL FOR ACTION: Cr Wendy Boglary and Oodgeroo MP Mark Robinson have called on the state government to take action in light of the four deaths.
“Should someone in the community notice a hole or damage to fencing, they are encouraged to report this through the Queensland Rail app or by phoning 13 12 30 to allow our teams to investigate and address it,” Mr Easy said.
“QR has been and will continue to consult with Redland City Council on the fencing improvement program and associated vegetation management works to assist with managing koala interface risks in this area and other priority areas as identified throughout the Redlands.”
Mr Easy said QR would be happy to also engage directly with the Koala Action Group.
Cr Boglary said that she was horrified by the number of deaths.
“They emphasise the need for effective wildlife corridors to mitigate the impact of development on wildlife movement,” she said.
Cr Boglary called on the state government to action the newly formed Koala Task Force and put more resources into this area of environmental management.
“The koala generates $30 billion a year to the national tourism economy so the humble koala is an economic asset worth protecting like any other ‘business’ that generates that sum and employment,” she said.
- Also read: Redland groups join alliance calling on govt to stop clearing koala habitat to save at risk fauna
Oodgeroo MP Mark Robinson said he was deeply disturbed and called on the state government to explain the strikes and scale of the problem and take action to stop further deaths.
“Koalas and trains clearly don’t mix, so the state government needs to explain why preventative measures are not working on the Cleveland line,” Mr Robinson said.
Ms Pointing said the koala breeding season would continue until December. Motorists also needed to be extra careful at this time.
“Expect to see koalas in unexpected places,” she said. “The boys will be out finding mates and the younger boys are out finding new territories and mates.”
Ms Pointing said dogs should be kept inside at night during breeding season so that koalas could safely cross properties.
She said that there were fewer than 1000 koalas in the Redlands.
Sick or injured koalas should be reported to the Redlands Wildlife Rescue Service on 3833 4031.
Koala sightings can be reported via the Koala Action Group website: koalagroup.asn.au