CARE: Granite Belt Wildlife President Betty Balch with one of the many koalas in her care.
CARE: Granite Belt Wildlife President Betty Balch with one of the many koalas in her care.

Queensland’s koala concern continues to grow

CONCERN over the rapid decline of one of Australia’s most iconic animals has led to the creation of the South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2019-24.

Koala populations have decreased by up to 80 per cent over the past 20 years, with almost three-quarters of essential habitat destroyed since 1960.

The draft strategy was released by the State Government on Sunday and says there will be no new developments within 570,000 hectares of ‘koala priority area’ in southeast Queensland.

In the month of November, the RSPCA took in 148 injured koalas, compared to the 56 the year before.

RSPCA spokesman Michael Beatty said at least 30 koalas were brought into the Wacol koala hospital from the recent fires in the Toowoomba region alone, nine of which Granite Belt Wildlife Carers president Betty Balch has in her care at Stanthorpe.

“I’m looking after them for the RSPCA because they are inundated with koalas down there,” Ms Balch said.

“I’m expecting a couple more to come in today.”

Ms Balch said it was good to see the government making the effort to protect koalas but feared it might be too late.

“You see things like the government putting aside a parcel of land in one hand and then they have taken a huge habitat away up around Noosa in the other hand.

“They are just trying to appease themselves rather than really doing any good.”

The Granite Belt Wildlife Carers cover the area from Stanthorpe, Texas, Allora, Killarney, Warwick and Liston, with Ms Balch instructing the public to bring any injured wildlife, particularly koalas, to her care.

“I’ve had four calls about koalas this week,” she said.

“There are people out there who do care but because we are a minority we don’t get heard.”

The public has until January 31 to provide feedback on the draft strategy available at www.qld.gov.au/seqkoalas.