'Merlin' the koala killed by car

A 2011 environmental study estimated a population of only 144 koalas remained on the Tweed coast.
A 2011 environmental study estimated a population of only 144 koalas remained on the Tweed coast. File

THE death of a koala after it was hit by a vehicle on Clothiers Creek Rd near Cabarita has wildlife advocates worried about the future of Tweed koala populations.

Caldera Environment Centre secretary Sam Dawson said the death of a koala called Merlin after he was hit by a car was "another step down the road towards extinction" for koalas in the region.

"It's not just Koalas on the coast that are suffering," Mr Dawson said.

"Koalas in rural areas are under pressure from private landholders clearing food-trees and who also let their dogs run rampant through the bushland.

"We have had several reports from Eungella where stressed Koalas have been collected by the Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers after they have emerged from the bush from being chased by dogs in recently cleared areas.

"We have a low incident of koala injury compared to other neighbouring shires, but this is only because we have such a tiny koala population."

Tweed Shire Council has urged drivers to take more care to protect the region's koalas, after the injured animal was found at Clothiers Creek Rd and another was discovered the previous week in North Tumbulgum.

Natural Resource Management project officer Sally Jacka said the koala found at North Tumbulgum may have been wandering around in pain for days.

"And how many undiscovered cases, not just of koalas, but other wildlife as well, like this occur - we don't know," Ms Jacka said.

"Driver awareness, particularly between dusk and dawn, and responsible pet ownership is imperative if we are to save our koalas."

The Tweed Coast Koala Habitat Study undertaken on behalf of Tweed Shire Council in 2011 estimated a population of approximately 144 koalas remaining on the Tweed coast, which may already be below the minimum viable population size required to sustain long-term population survival.

Mr Dawson said Caldera Environment Centre, Tweed Valley Wildlife Carers, and Team Koala offered hope to the Tweed koalas but the organisations needed more support from the public.

Topics:  animals koala motorists tweed tweed shire council wildlife

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