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Cape Otway koala health check

25 May 2015

A koala health assessment is about to commence at Cape Otway to determine the health of the overabundant koala population in remnant Manna Gum woodland.

The health assessment is the first action out of the recommendations developed with an Expert Panel convened on the issue by Minister for Environment and Climate Change Lisa Neville.

In 2013 and 2014 DELWP initiated a welfare intervention program at Cape Otway to respond to the issue of starving koalas, after the koala population expanded to unsustainable levels, devastating the remnant Manna Gum woodland.

Despite a slight improvement in Manna Gum foliage in some areas, koala density is still high at Cape Otway and proactive management is needed to protect koala welfare.

Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) spokesperson Mandy Watson said: "The koala health assessment will be conducted by vets and animal health officers, working with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP)."

"Koala welfare and habitat health continue to be our top priorities," Ms Watson said.

"We are focusing our attention on private land in Cape Otway where koalas are most affected by over-browsing.

"The health assessment is expected to run for a week and includes catching a representative sample of koalas, examining them, ear-tagging and implanting fertility control in the females prior to release.

"The planned health assessment is weather-dependent, as we can't handle koalas in wet weather or low temperatures due to potential welfare impacts on the koalas.".

"Any unhealthy koalas, which are deemed too sick to survive release, will be humanely euthanized to prevent further suffering."

After the health assessment DELWP will be conducting habitat mapping and species distribution modelling. All of this information will be used to  help guide future management actions.

Contact numbers

DELWP General enquiries: 136 186

Victorian Bushfire Information Line: 1800 240 667

Local Government Switchboard: 03 9208 3333

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