Doomed koalas may get reprieve
THE Noosa area may become an environmental refuge for chlamydia-ravaged female koalas in south-east Queensland.
Cuddling an Australia Zoo-bred healthy female called April, Environment Minister Andrew Powell announced in Tewantin National Park yesterday that the government was considering over-turning an edict that often means a "grisly end" for recovered koalas which have been made sterile by the disease.
"If they haven't been able to find a home at a zoo or a sanctuary they've been euthanised," Mr Powell said.
"The reality is there are places in south-east Queensland where, with the right scientific approach, we can be releasing these koalas so that they can live out their days in peace.
"We're looking for partners to identify where we could place these koalas."
The Noosa hinterland has been identified as high on the list of potential areas, but the government wants to be guided by experts to ensure that released koalas do not affect healthier populations by competing for resources.
"We recently purchased 57ha down the road at Lake Macdonald, right next door (to Tewantin National Park), connecting some of our already existing protected areas," Mr Powell said.
"They're the kind of places that we would be looking to our future partner to identify if we could release koalas there."
Mr Powell said any koala that had to be euthanised was one too many.
He said more than $26 million was set aside to acquire prime koala habitat.
"I haven't got specific figures (on euthanased females) but it's enough that there's been a community groundswell for many years,'' he said.
He said Member for Noosa Glen Elmes had been leading the campaign for sterile female koala releases.
Mr Elmes said Noosa would do anything it could to find a home for female koalas that "may be sterile but are completely healthy in every other way".
"We have the natural environment - great assets like the Tewantin National Park where we are today and a community that really likes its environment and loves its koalas."
He said the potential for Noosa National Park's head
land section, where koalas displaced by southern land clearing in the late 1950s were introduced by Dr Arthur Harrold, would be something to be determined by further investigations.
I'd love to be able to see koalas back in Noosa National Park," Mr Elmes said.