Koala breeding season sparks call to protect and preserve iconic species

Published Saturday, 11 November, 2023 at 04:02 PM

Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science and Minister for Multicultural Affairs
The Honourable Leanne Linard

  • Queenslanders can expect to see more koalas out and about over the coming months as they look for a mate or seek to establish new territory.
  • As a result, koalas will be spending more time on the ground and will be at a greater risk of dog attacks and car strikes.
  • Every year, around 1,200 koalas are brought into care across the SEQ koala hospital network as a result of trauma.

Koalas are now on the move looking for love or a new home, with veterinarians and wildlife carers urging all Queenslanders to be extra vigilant and help keep koalas safe this breeding season.

Koalas will be spending more time on the ground as they try to find a mate or establish new territory, and young koalas leave their mothers to find a home of their own.

While breeding season plays an important role in the continuation of Queensland’s iconic koala population, it is also a busy time for veterinarian staff across the South East Queensland Wildlife Hospital Network.

During this time, koalas are more prone to dog attacks and car strikes and a range of other natural and human-related threats as they move through backyards and on busy roads.

These threats are compounded this year by the ongoing El Niño weather event, which is causing koalas to travel further to find water.

The hot and dry weather also decreases liveable koala habitat, meaning more koalas are congregating in smaller areas which increases the risk of the potentially deadly koala bacterial disease Chlamydia pecorum.

The Department of Environment and Science (DES) works with key partners in the SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network, including Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, RSPCA Qld Wildlife Hospital and Currumbin Wildlife Hospital.

Every year, around 1,200 koalas are rescued and transported to these hospitals in a coordinated response supported by a network of dedicated volunteers. Through their efforts, thousands of koalas have been successfully rescued, rehabilitated and returned to the wild.

Vets at the DES-operated Moggill Koala Rehabilitation Centre are currently treating and caring for around a dozen koalas, which are being rehabilitated following primary treatment at other facilities in preparation for their release to the wild.

While vets are doing their best to rehabilitate injured koalas, Queenslanders can help avoid these tragic accidents from happening by taking some simple steps this koala breeding season.

This includes:

  • Driving carefully, especially between dusk and dawn when koalas are most active, and whenever you see a koala warning or advisory signs
  • Keeping your dog inside or contained at night
  • Training your dog in wildlife avoidance
  • Creating koala-friendly fencing and swimming pools to give koalas an escape route
  • Reporting all sick or injured koalas to RSPCA Animal Emergency 1300 ANIMAL hotline by calling 1300 264 625.

Queenslanders can also report all wild koala sightings to DES via the free QWildlife Koala Sighting app, which recently took home the Community Impact award at the 2023 Geospatial Excellence Awards.

Since the app launched in June, it has been downloaded more than 23,000 times, resulting in a 3,700 per cent increase in reported koala sightings, and a 31 per cent increase in the past month.

Quotes attributable to Environment Minister Leanne Linard:

“Love might be in the air for koalas right now, but during breeding season they actually spend more time on the ground, which is where they are most vulnerable.

“With dog attacks and car strikes posing such a significant threat to this iconic species over the next few months, it is more important than ever for us all to do our part to keep koalas safe from cars and dogs, and to support the hardworking staff across the wildlife hospital network.

“The Palaszczuk Government is providing $3 million in funding this year to the South East Queensland Wildlife Network, to support their work to rehabilitate our protected animals including koalas.

“We have also committed $17.3 million in this year’s budget to extend and accelerate conservation of koalas in South East Queensland as part of our South East Queensland Koala Strategy 2020-2025.

“Earlier this year, we launched the now award-winning Koala QWildlife app, which allows members of the public to act as citizen scientists by reporting koala sightings and providing accurate location and population data.

“With koalas now out looking for love, I encourage all Queenslanders to download this free app and report all koala sightings – hopefully in pairs!”

Quotes attributable to DES Southern Wildlife and Koala Operations Director Geoff Lundie-Jenkins:

“Koala breeding season is the busiest time of year for vets and wildlife carers across the SEQ Wildlife Hospital network.

“Some of the koalas that are brought in cannot be saved, and others require round-the-clock, intensive care and long periods of rehabilitation to allow them to be released back to the wild”.

“So far this breeding season, more than 45 koalas have been treated at the DES centre here at Moggill, with more than 20 suffering the effects of either car strikes or dog attacks, with the rest needing treatment for Chlamydia.

“With koalas facing additional challenges this summer as a result of the dry conditions, it is even more crucial for people to drive carefully, especially at night, and prevent dog attacks both in your yard and out on walks.

“The best thing the community can do to help us is prevent koalas from suffering these types of traumas and allow them to safely travel to find a mate or new territory.”

Further information:

Learn more about what you can do to help koalas this breeding season here: https://www.qld.gov.au/environment/plants-animals/animals/living-with/koalas/koala-breeding-season


Media contact: Scott Chandler – (07) 3719 7339