THOUSANDS of koalas across the south-west will have to be sterilised unless alternative habitat can be provided to bluegum plantations, a key wildlife rescue carer has warned.
Tracey Wilson of Koroit, who was involved in a national controversy last year over koalas being killed during logging operations, said there was a looming disaster unless the government stepped in to find a solution soon.
“There are tens of thousands of koalas in bluegum plantations across the Green Triangle region and when these trees are harvested, where will the animals go,” she told The Standard yesterday.
“They will go into other habitats and cause overpopulation and starvation. There will be no choice but to look at sterilisation.
“The state government knows about it and I think the federal government needs to become involved because Canberra promoted bluegum investment in the first place.”
Ms Wilson cited Mount Napier and Mount Eccles parks as areas under threat as koalas continued to migrate from depleted bluegum stocks.
She called for governments to fund a previously-rejected scheme to create a biolink between the two parks and Cobboboonee national park.
“It would be a multi-million-dollar scheme, but it would be effective,” she said. Monitoring of populations in bluegum plantations has increased since the ABC highlighted alarming incidents of koala deaths during harvesting operations.
One company had its Forest Stewardship Council certification suspended because of the backlash and steps were introduced for better procedures to reduce fatalities and injury.
“Harvesting is continuing, but there is much more awareness within the industry on its responsibilities towards wildlife,” Ms Wilson said.
Koala populations also faced pressure from urbanisation.
“Councils should be looking at incorporating green corridors into planning schemes with buffer zones.
“Our urban area is rich in wildlife,” she said.