Alarm at koala carnage
NOOSA'S koala-killing road tragically claimed another victim on Saturday night, a strapping, healthy male called Bedford whose chance of helping his species defy local extinction was abruptly ended by a car bumper after 7pm.
And worse was to follow with a former road victim Prince Valiant struck on Noosa's Eenie Creek Rd on Tuesday morning and rushed to Australia Zoo, where it is hoped he will survive injuries including head trauma and a broken clavicle.
Six-year-old, 8.3kg Bedford became the third koala to be struck and killed along Eenie Creek Rd in 13 months and the fifth fatality since the relatively new road was built to connect Noosaville to Sunshine Beach and Noosa Heads.
For Carolyn Beaton, co-founder of the online Koala Diaries, this was another costly blow in the battle to save Noosa fast-disappearing koalas.
Ms Beaton said horrified motorists watched helplessly as the koala was struck trying to cross the road not far from the Noosa Civic shopping centre.
"Two motorists immediately pulled over to render assistance," Ms Beaton said.
"Sadly, being bumper bar height, koalas rarely survive car hits at speed."
The koala, christened Bedford as it lay helpless by the roadside, was rushed by the Sunshine Coast Koala and Wildlife Rescue to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, but died overnight from internal injuries.
Ray Chambers of SCKWR had travelled about 500km that day across south-east Queensland to rescue four other koalas.
He said the death of Bedford was gut-wrenching and galling.
"What really was tough to take about this was that he was so healthy - he had no chlamydia," Mr Chambers said.
"I go home from every one of these call outs and cry."
Ms Beaton has been in contact with the Sunshine Coast council about improving fencing protection along Eenie Ck Rd as part of an overall survival management plan for the three small sub-populations of koalas living in the area.
She said Prince Valiant had been released at Noosa Springs last December after being hit by a car - a painful lesson that failed to install road sense.
"This is the second time this Noosa boy has been hit by a car in his short life," she said.
"Fragmentation is death to the koala.
"Compounding that issue, koala-proof fencing exists in only a couple of sections east of Monks Bridge (on Eenie Creek Rd) and that is often compromised by overhanging tree branches that need regular maintenance.
"The only (other) known koala to have survived a car hit on Eenie Creek Rd with its 80 km speed limit, has been koala Footscray," Ms Beaton said.
Footscray suffered a broken collarbone on September 9 after being struck at the eastern end of the road where it meets Heathland Dr on the approach to Sunshine Beach.
"He was released within the Noosa Springs resort precinct on the banks of Lake Weyba only two weeks ago," Ms Beaton said.
The resort is considered to be the last remaining "semi-safe" release site in the district by the koala rescuers.
Ms Beaton said the Noosa koala population affected by the road, was once significant but koala numbers are now so low that "their long-term viability is very unlikely without management intervention".
Ms Beaton said to achieve a sustainable koala population in the Noosa Biosphere Reserve, a multi-faceted koala recovery and existing management plan involving some of Australia's leading koala experts, needs to be implemented.
"The plan mirrors several of the key recommendations that came out of the recent senate inquiry that investigated the health, status and sustainability of Australia's koala population over several months," she said.
"We know we are on the right track and that the experts we have waiting in the wings can greatly improve the poor situation for koalas that exists here presently, but we need a financial commitment to make it happen.
"Our local, state and federal governments are not answering the call and I fear that if we cannot give koalas a future within our Biosphere they do not have a future anywhere," Carolyn said.