Environment Department issues permit to remove and relocate koala from Cowley Street, Ormiston after developer gets the go-ahead – RCB

By August 17, 2021 News

Angela Kelly               August 17 2021 – 9:30AM

GOODBYE: The remaining koala in the trees in Cowley Street, Ormiston will be removed. Photo: Chris Walker.

A koala living in trees at Ormiston’s Cowley Street will be removed to make way for residential development.

Residents were outraged after huge gum trees were cleared from the Ormiston koala corridor in January, with wildlife activists saying it was a devastating blow for urban koalas.

The state Environment Department approved the removal of the animal last week.

A department spokesperson said a qualified spotter catcher would be appointed to remove one koala that had been seen in a small patch of trees.

“DES requires that council release it into suitable habitat within a nearby reserve,” she said.

When tree felling on the property began there were three koalas reportedly spotted on the block at the time, now there is just one remaining in the trees.

A council spokesperson said since the block was subdivided in the 1890s, no application was needed for clearing vegetation.

Resident Steph Gaunt said she had written to Environment Minister Meaghan Scanlon in hope she would help save and protect the koalas and the reducing corridors.

“If council had found a way to save these remaining koala corridors trees, the outcome may have been different and these vulnerable animals could have had a ‘small’ sanctuary to eat, sleep and mate.

“It’s obviously a popular destination for koalas. We don’t have that many remaining koalas in the area but yet they choose to return to this corridor on a regular occurrence,” she said.

Council had considered buying the site on Cowley Street, but said in March, the purchase did not go ahead because of financial impact and the fragmented nature of the habitat.

Tree clearing on the land prompted protests outside the council chambers in February, with residents calling for stronger protections for koalas.

A koala in the trees in Cowley Street will be removed. Photo: Chris Walker

Koala Action Group president Debbie Pointing said she questioned the use of the release of rehabilitated koalas and take and release of koala in imminent danger policy for this situation.

“A developer wants a koala removed from the development site so they can bulldoze the remaining large koala food trees,” she said.

Ms Pointing said the group were involved in the review of this policy and at that time expressed serious concern about the risk of it being misused to appease developers.

“To suggest the koala living on the Cowley Street site is in clear and imminent danger is nonsense as in the past 12 months up to four other koalas have been seen on the site,” she said.

The Environment Department could not say when the koala would be removed.