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Slaughtering koalas — the Liberal Party way

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(Image courtesy @KoalaCrisis / Facebook)

The South Australian Liberal Government is proposing to "cull" koalas and other threatened native species. Koala warrior Sue Arnold reports.

The internet is going crazy with posts on the latest effort by a Liberal government to slaughter koalas.

A Parliamentary Inquiry in South Australia has been told by the Natural Resources Committee (there are eight of them and it’s not clear which committee has provided this advice) that koalas and other native animals should be "culled".

"Managing" – AKA "killing" – endangered species

According to the Inquiry, koalas, corellas, fur seals and other native animals 

'were reaching unmanageable levels across the State and needed to be culled, poisoned and euthanised.'

The 'Inquiry into Management of Overabundant and Pest Species' states:

1. The Minister for Environment and Water should be able to declare a species as "overabundant", for the purposes of managing its population impacts.

 

2. The Minister for Environment and Water should consider immediate declarations in relation to western grey kangaroos, little corellas, long-nosed fur seals, and koalas where populations are having a deleterious impact on an identified landscape.

Koalas on Kangaroo Island were targeted as the first cab off the killing rank.

Long-nosed fur seals were also targeted on the grounds that 'as a group of animals living around a fishery, were causing aggravation’. 

Yet just a couple of weeks ago, a study was published demonstrating that Kangaroo Island’s koalas 'could be the last in the country that are entirely free of chlamydia'.

University of Adelaide PhD candidate Jessica Fabijan told the media:

'This is the last large, isolated chlamydia-free population which holds significant importance as an insurance for the future of the species.'

The states

In Queensland, where the Palaszczuk Government appears to be a clone of state and federal Coalition governments, the RSPCA reports that the number of koalas hospitalised at their Brisbane headquarters has almost doubled in a year, to a record 690.

Many koalas have been hit by cars or attacked by dogs in a small area dubbed “the triangle of death”. The zone, according to reports, extends from the eastern Brisbane suburb of Cannon Hill, south to Mount Gravatt and east to Carindale.

Koalas are cornered in islands of bushlands surrounded by urban development, struggling to cope, with the loss of habitat driving them onto roads and dog attacks.

In NSW, the largest chlamydia free expanding koala population in southwest Sydney is facing extinction as massive urbanisation projects take over the koalas’ habitat. The Berejiklian Government, attempting to cover its obscene failures to protect the species with research grants, focused on translocation and disease.

In Victoria, there’s been no population estimate available for years. All we know is anecdotal information from shelters that koalas are being wiped out by logging in blue gum plantations and by urbanisation.

Reports of dead, dying and injured koalas are coming from every koala state. South Australia, Victoria, NSW and Queensland. Their plight is a national scandal.

Governments are presiding over the deliberate extinction of not only koalas but coastal forest ecosystems, taking out the life support systems of countless species.

But it’s not just the governments who are completely failing to take any steps to stop the killing spree. Scientific organisations focused on the environment and ecology are also failing to denounce the governments’ abject failure to protect Australia’s unique biodiversity.

The scientific bodies

Australians for Animals enlisted the support of a number of well-respected koala experts to compose a sign-on letter to the Queensland Premier. The letter was circulated to scientists and scientific organisations throughout Australia.

As you will see, the letter was polite and to the point.

We, the undersigned, express our dismay over the ongoing decline towards extinction of Queensland’s koalas, due primarily to destruction of the habitats on which they depend.

 

With no effective enforcement of even the presently inadequate protection of koalas and their habitats, we draw your attention as Premier to the crisis caused by your Government’s failure to address the uncontrolled destruction and fragmentation of habitat, which is the fundamental issue causing the demise of Queensland’s faunal emblem.

 

Given the acknowledged loss of 80 per cent of koalas in South East Queensland (SEQ) and a possibly even greater catastrophe for koalas outside of SEQ, as a result of broad scale habitat loss from agriculture and mining, together with loss of corridors, any objective analysis demonstrates that the future survival of Koalas in Queensland is tenuous at best.

 

We note that the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has designated the koala as one of the ten most vulnerable species to climate change globally. Yet there are no policies which reflect the need for refugia in Queensland.

 

Human health depends on thriving, sustainable ecosystems. The recent UN Report on the catastrophic loss of biodiversity stated that loss of wildlife caused by human activity “pose a significant risk for our own life-support systems”.

 

We urge your immediate attention and decisive action to rectify this parlous situation. It is our strong view that unless these measures are implemented in the remainder of this Parliament and the next one, the situation for koalas and the ecosystems on which they depend are likely to become irretrievable.  

Taking into account that Australia has the worst rate of mammal extinction in the world, one would reasonably expect strong support from ecological organisations.

The Ecological Society of Australia – self-described as 'the peak group of ecologists in Australia, with over 1200 members for all states and territories – promotes 'the application of ecological principles in the development, use and conservation of Australia’s national resources'.

President Don Driscoll’s response to signing on?

The policy working group is considering strategic ways to build ESA’s credibility as a trusted advisor, so are very careful about what they are willing to sign up to, particularly at the moment with our five-year strategic plan in development. So ESA can’t sign on to the koala letter.

A request to the Royal Society of Queensland president Dr Geoff Edwards fared no better:

The Society has been extremely busy with a proposed conference on rural policy generally (including tree clearing) and I haven't been able to put the preconditions in place for action on koalas specifically.

 

I will pass your message on to our Council for their advice and decision.

No response was ever received.

Doctors for the Environment Australia was approached. Their spokesperson was unwilling to sign on unless some comment was made in relation to health issues. 

Other centres for the environment and ecology at various universities were approached with the same non-response.

The lawyers

Then there’s the legal profession. Barely a word about the repealing of legislation that provided minimal protection for koalas and other listed species from the law societies.

Environmental Defenders offices have been stripped of government funding, ensuring that the only legal challenges that can be mounted are diminishing by the day.

Pro bono lawyers are now a critically endangered species. Communities and the concerned public have limited ability to raise the funds required for the massive costs levied by legal firms.

Who cares?

So who cares? Anyone?

What kind of religion does the PM Scott Morrison worship that allows the destruction of Creation?

I'm not the only person in Australia weeping at my desk as I witness the terrible deliberate extermination of defenceless animals.   

If the tears of concerned Australians were measured, there would be a very large ocean.

You can follow Sue Arnold on Twitter @koalacrisis and Koala Crisis on Facebook here.

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