Koalas Struggled To Survive North Stradbroke Island Fires
Smokey the koala is one of the survivors
SURVEYORS say it has been a “mixed bag” for wildlife on North Stradbroke Island in the wake of the recent bushfires.
Straddie Wildcare conducted five surveys, including some from the air and sea, in the days after the easing of the bushfire emergency.
The organisation found both pockets where wildlife had been unharmed, and other areas where animals had been burnt or completely vaporised by the fire.
Redland City Council education and environment emergency services manager Boyd Essex said the fire swept through the bushland at varying temperatures and speeds.
“Not much got away from the areas where it was very fast and very hot, especially slow-moving animals such as reptiles and small ground-dwelling mammals,” he said.
“There were also areas that burned a lot cooler, where there was a bit of a chance for the animals to take refuge.”
Straddie Wildcare volunteer Shelley Trevaskis said the surveys showed no sign of injured wildlife, meaning they were either killed in the fire or made it safely to unburnt areas.
Pockets of bushland containing eastern grey kangaroos, birds, koalas and frogs were found during the search on a drive through the east coast.
Mr Essex said the council and wildlife groups would now address ongoing problems such as connectivity between habitats, reduced food supply, lack of shelter, feral animals and weed invasion.
“We’re asking the local community and visitors to keep their eyes open for wildlife in the bushland areas in case there are still some that are injured,” he said.
Cr Craig Ogilvie said the council was also considering applying for a federal government Caring for our Country grant to help fund restoration work.
Meanwhile Ms Trevaskis said Wildcare Straddie was still looking for volunteers to help transport injured animals.
She said feral animals and speeding motorists were still major issues on the island.
“It’s very frustrating to see people who don’t restrain their dogs or who don’t obey the speed limit,” she said.
Anyone interested in volunteering can call 0407 766 052.
Redland City Council service manager for environmental education, Boyd Essex,
Story By Stephen Jeffery | Jan. 16, 2014, 5 p.m. Source: http://www.baysidebulletin.com.au/story/2027230/straddie-wildlife-struggled-to-survive-fire/
KOALA MAULED AFTER SURVIVING STRADDIE FIRES
Romane Cristescu from Wildcare Straddie gives fresh water to Ziggy the koala.
ZIGGY was supposed to be one of the success stories of the North Stradbroke Island bushfires, having made it through the blaze unscathed using natural instinct.
Instead, just days after the fire was declared out, the koala was euthanized after he was attacked by domestic dogs near Dunwich.
The island’s wildlife carers and traditional owners are using Ziggy’s story to highlight the ongoing threat introduced species pose to native fauna on Stradbroke.
Ziggy was discovered following a survey of the island in the wake of the bushfires.
He had survived the bushfires by moving to higher ground and was given water and food.
However, the koala was then attacked by two domestic dogs which had been illegally left to wander the streets without restraints.
Wildcare Straddie spokesman Greg Grimmett said uncontrolled domestic dogs caused “a significant number” of wildlife injuries.
“We get too many animals that are torn to bits because of dogs – a bit of common sense would go a long way,” he said.
“People particularly should keep in mind that off-leash areas do not mean people do not have to have their dogs under control.”
Redland City Council animal management officers will have an increased presence on Stradbroke during the recovery phase after the bushfires, with a $220 fine for anyone with an off-leash dog outside designated areas.
Division 2 Cr Craig Ogilvie asked pet owners on the island to consider the welfare of native animals after the large loss of habitat.
“This is nothing more than what’s required by law but it’s even more crucial right now because a lot of wildlife has moved to new habitat and is highly vulnerable to attack,” he said.
Quandamooka Yoolooburrabee Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Cameron Costello urged people to care for both flora and fauna on the island.
“We encourage people to come and holiday, to enjoy our beaches and everything else we have to offer, but also to be mindful that we are in recovery mode,” he said.
Anyone who sees injured wildlife on the island can contact 0407 766 052.
Ziggy the koala feeds after the North Stradbroke Island bushfires
Published Jan. 17, 2014, 3:50 p.m.