THE Sunshine Coast’s struggling koala population could be extinct within five years, a long time koala rescuer has warned.
Sunshine Coast Koala Wildlife Rescue volunteer Ray Chambers said more than a dozen koalas had been killed on the Coast in the past six months.
Mr Chambers and his brother Murray have been rescuing koalas for more than five years and said this season, from August to February, was the highest number of deaths they’d seen.
“In peak times, we get called out to one koala rescue a day, sometimes two,” he said.
“It’s been bad – one of the highest stats of deaths this season just gone.”
The three biggest reasons for koala deaths are sickness, loss of habitat and being hit by cars.
But Mr Chambers said they also had two relatively new threats in feral dogs and cows.
“We’ve lost eight koalas to feral dogs from Kingaroy, up to Maryborough and down to Brisbane,” he said.
“Wild dogs are playing a big part now… in Ilkley there are a lot of feral dog problems.
“They’re a menace, taking everything – possums, birds, koalas, they’re probably taking people’s pets in their own yard.”
Mr Chambers said cows were a “big problem” on rural properties as they kicked and trod on koalas until they were dead.
Koalas are already extinct in Maroochydore and Caloundra, with one possibly still living near the Caloundra turn-off on the Bruce Hwy.
Buderim is “hanging on”, with about four at the peak of the mountain and 10 to 15 in the national park.
The Noosa region has the highest koala population on the Coast, with about 30 living in the area, including four at the national park.
“At the end of the day we’re losing the fight,” Mr Chambers said.
“On the Sunshine Coast it will be a maximum five years before they’re extinct, if that.”
Mr Chambers said he feared the koala would become the “Tasmanian Tiger of Queensland”.
“The only way we’ll see a koala are in zoos and sanctuaries,” he said.
Sunshine Coast Koala Rescue is a 24-hour rescue service. Call 0423 618 740.
Story By Nicole Fuge | 10th Feb 2014 12:00 PM