A koala and her joey at Tomewin. (Photo credit: Sarah Cobb.)

Tweed Shire Council is partnering with Friends of the Koala to urge motorists and the community to take extra notice and care – particularly at dawn and dusk – after more than 30 koalas are reported to have been hit by cars or attacked by dogs across the Northern Rivers since mid-July. 

Following the horror spate of koala deaths this active season, motorists are being asked to be extra vigilant on roads, with community members asked to contain dogs at night and keep on the lookout for koalas on their properties and when driving. 

Koalas are at their most mobile at this time of year, actively searching for mates and new habitats. However, as their habitat is small and fragmented, koalas are often forced to travel long distances on foot through urbanised areas, where they are at risk of being struck by a vehicle or attacked by a dog.

Members of the public can help koalas by:

  • Containing dogs at night when koalas are most active
  • Providing safe refuges for koalas in backyards such as a tree or climbing pole
  • Observing koala road signs and driving slowly in known koala areas, taking into account there might be a koala on the road
  • Reporting all koala sightings: sick, injured or distressed koalas immediately to the Friends of the Koala 24/7 rescue hotline on 02 6622 1233

Friends of the Koala Veterinary Surgeon Dr Jodie Wakeman said the recent number of vehicle strikes had been unprecedented.

A healthy female koala climbing a tree in the Murwillumbah CBD in the early hours of 16 September. The koala was captured by Friends of the Koala for a health check before release at a more suitable location nearby. (photo credit: Kyiah Jones).

A healthy female koala climbing a tree in the Murwillumbah CBD in the early hours of 16 September. The koala was captured by Friends of the Koala for a health check before release at a more suitable location nearby. (photo credit: Kyiah Jones).

“Sadly, over the past two months, Friends of the Koala has tended to 30 koalas across the Northern Rivers that have been hit by a car or attacked by a dog,” Dr Wakeman said.

“Four of these were mothers with female baby joeys.

“Although many of the adults unfortunately sustained fatal injuries, we have managed to save two of the joeys that are now recovering in home care after treatment in hospital.

“While admissions to our hospital and calls to our rescue hotline usually spike between July and December, recent numbers of car hits are unprecedented.”

Tweed Shire Council’s Biodiversity Projects and Planning Officer, Marama Hopkins, said, 

“Our local rescuers have had a particularly busy start to the season, with eight rescues within eight days in late August in the Tweed. 

“This included a fatal vehicle strike on Terranora Road. Losing yet another koala in this well-known koala zone – particularly a healthy young female – is devastating.

“We need to be aware that koalas can turn up in the strangest of places and where we least expect them and take action as caretakers of our internationally significant environment to pass onto our next generation.”

Sightings of healthy koalas can also be reported at tweed.nsw.gov.au/koalas or at friendsofthekoala.org.

Featured image: A koala and her joey at Tomewin. Image: Sarah Cobb.

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