Koala plague destroying trees on farms across southwest Victoria
Jan 13 2016
THE koalas have got to go, according to southwest Victorian farmer Garry Everett.
The prime lamb producer from Drumborg, near Heywood, said “a severe overpopulation” of koalas was destroying trees on farms across the region.
“They’re not always cute and cuddly,” he said.
Mr Everett will put a resolution to the Victorian Farmers Federation conference in Melbourne next week, calling on the group to lobby government and timber plantations to stump up the cash to manage koalas on private land.
Mr Everett would not disclose how much money he was seeking, but said a recent $3 million, 10-year koala sterilisation project at Mt Eccles National Park “had reasonable success”.
Mr Everett estimated there were up to eight koalas a hectare on his property, and in one shelter belt koalas had destroyed 80 per cent of the vegetation.
“I’m open to any suggestion about how to reduce numbers,” Mr Everett said.
“In the long term, sterilisation might work, but in the short term they may need to be relocated.”
When koalas attack … trees
Deakin University koala management expert Desley Whisson said koala culls were illegal.
“Koalas are threatened and becoming extinct in some states so it would be very difficult to justify (a cull),” Dr Whisson said.
“There’s very little that can be done. It’s horrific to see the koalas get to such numbers. It’s awful to watch.”
Dr Whisson said an overpopulation of koalas in the Otways in recent years had meant koalas were starving in great numbers and “literally falling out of trees”.
Mr Everett said an increase in blue-gum plantations in the southwest had boosted the koala population.
“If koala numbers aren’t reduced quickly we will lose all of our remnant trees in the next 10 years,” Mr Everett said.
“I’m planting more trees, but the old established trees, some 20 and 30 years old, others up to 100 years old, are all dying because they don’t have the leaf cover — it has all been eaten.
“I’d like the public to know we have a problem and what that problem is, so that if we can do something we don’t want a backlash like brumbies or kangaroos.”