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Doing All We Can To Protect Victoria’s Koala Colony

20 August 2015

The Andrews Labor Government is co-leading a national discussion on the guidelines for translocating Koalas within Australia.

At the last meeting of Environment Ministers, the Commonwealth, state and territory Environment Ministers committed to the development of national translocation guidelines for Koalas with the hope to determine if interstate translocation can be used as an additional management tool in parts of Victoria with overabundant Koalas.

The Commonwealth and Victoria agreed to co-lead development of the guidelines, in consultation with relevant jurisdictions. A focus will be the Koala health, welfare and genetic implications of translocations.

The Labor Government has moved to allow zoos and wildlife parks to provide homes for orphaned Koala joeys. This will enable suitable wildlife parks and zoos to care for individual joeys of Koalas euthanized due to ill-health.

This will enable dependent orphaned back young koalas from over-abundant populations to be rehomed. While adult wild animals often have difficulty adapting to captivity, dependent back young koalas have a higher chance of successfully integrating into captivity.

To be eligible to rehome dependent orphaned back young Koala the zoo or wildlife park must hold the relevant licence, then apply to DELWP and be available to collect the Koalas and transport them from the Otways.

Victoria and South Australia have thriving Koala populations unlike Queensland, NSW and the ACT where Koala populations are listed as vulnerable under the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999.

Over-browsing of Koala food trees is a significant issue in parts of Victoria and South Australia and there are very few areas of un-occupied suitable Koala habitat available for translocation in Victoria.

Translocation of Koalas seems an obvious way to manage overabundance in southern states and, at the same time, supplement remnant populations in northern states. There are, however, welfare and other concerns associated with this, including physiological differences between southern and northern Koalas as well as the potential for translocated southern Koalas to introduce new diseases to remnant northern populations.

The Government will continue to work with Koala experts, the Commonwealth and Koala states to explore the possibility of Koala translocations focussing on the impact of health and welfare, to fully understand if there are circumstances where interstate translocations may be possible and that the risks can be managed effectively.

Quotes Attributable to Minister for Environment, Climate Change and Water Lisa Neville

“I want to leave no stone un-turned in the search for ways to improve the management of Koala over-abundance in parts of Victoria.”

“Effective and humane management of Koala populations is a priority for the Victorian Government and I want to understand the risks of translocation to Victorian Koalas and to remnant Koala populations in other states.”

“Zoos and wildlife parks that want to re-home an orphaned Koala joey must provide a high standard of care to ensure the welfare of these young wild-born koalas while they are adapting to captivity.”

Reviewed 19 August 2020

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