Should North Stradbroke Island be made cat and dog free?

By November 22, 2016 News

Brian Williams  22 Nov 2016, 11 a.m.


SAVING KOALAS: Choices are to be made about saving koalas and using them as an eco-marketing tool or simply developing as much as possible, warns a leading scientist.

REDLAND City Mayor Karen Williams has called on residents to start a petition if they want council to consider making North Stradbroke Island cat and dog free.

Cr Williams said the petition could lead to the matter being considered by councillors and then a change made to bylaws if it was supported.

“Ultimately if the community wants to go down the path of not having domestic animals on Straddie, we will have the conversation, but at this stage there is no formal approach,’’ she said.

Should there be bans on cats and dogs in areas of high conservation value, like North Stradbroke Island?

It comes as University of Queensland Emeritus Professor Tor Hundloe calls on council to do more to save island and mainland koalas, saying North Stradbroke will lose one of its great natural tourism advantages if its wildlife are not better protected.

Professor Hundloe said Redlands risked becoming like the Gold Coast where the koala population had been near-decimated on the coastal strip.

Professor Hundloe said that just two generations ago koalas could be seen in the back streets of Burleigh Heads.

“Today, best save your time and energy and visit a theme park to see a handful of koalas in captivity,’’ he said “The city’s economic success has come at a very high cost.

“Habitat for koalas and other native animals could have been preserved.’’

In the book The Gold Coast Transformed, Professor Hundloe and other scientists wrote that it was not far fetched to imagine that tourists could have been able to enjoy koalas on the Gold Coast and prophetically referred to North Stradbroke.

“In a similar environment to that of the Gold Coast, on North Stradbroke, we can sip coffee and contemplate the life of a koala, promoted by the sight of one perched in the footpath gum tree,’’ Professor Hundloe wrote.

Last week Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Cameron Costello said it was time the issue of a cat and dog ban was raised and road speed limits enacted after koalas and kangaroos were killed by domestic dogs.

Mr Costello said the toll on wildlife was damaging to the eco-tourism reputation being built on the island.

Cr Williams said council had received two dog attack related complaints; one involving a dog attack on a kangaroo and the second being an incident involving two koalas.

“That’s not to say these are the only incidents that have occurred but they are the only ones we have had reported,’’ she said.

The heart of the problem was people’s behaviour. “If dogs and cats were properly restrained and if people obeyed the speed limits and slowed down, more animals could be saved,’’ she said.

Council is implementing a three-year, city-wide program in an effort to change community behaviour and thereby reduce dog attacks on koalas.

Council has trained rangers from QYAC and Queensland National Parks and Straddie Camping, giving them powers to collect information for council to take compliance action, with particular emphasis on dogs off-leash.

Rangers will have powers in place before Christmas. A door-to-door inspection program also will take place from January to April to ensure dogs and cats are registered and educate residents about animal ownership.