Conserving Koala Country

Conserving Koala Country

Friday, 16 October 2015

Culling koalas? Who would dare suggest such a thing?

Interestingly enough, some Queensland and New South Wales researchers have just published a paper suggesting that koalas be culled. Not just any koalas though; just those that are suffering terminal effects of Chlamydia and transmitting this disease to healthy koalas. Using computer simulations, they showed that this 'selective culling' approach would result in an increase in population size in 'The Koala Coast' population in Queensland as a result of reduced disease incidence.

Not surprisingly, their suggestion resulted in a little confusion in the media. Afterall, it wasn't that long ago that everyone was upset about 'culling' starving and extremely ill koalas at Cape Otway.

Today, I published an article about 'culling' koalas in The Conversation ( In short, I believe that culling should be available for managing koalas whether it be for disease management OR to address overabundance issues. The current 'no culling' policy has resulted in many koalas at Cape Otway suffering slow deaths due to starvation. Watching koalas die like this is horrific to witness. Although the thought of 'culling' healthy koalas doesn't entirely sit well with me (I love these animals), I would much prefer to see a few culled than to see an entire population suffer and a unique ecosystem disappear.

This is not to say that 'culling' should be used indiscriminately though. It should only be used when other approaches fail or aren't viable. Governments need to be more proactive in assessing management options in advance of problems occurring. If that had happened at Cape Otway, the population needing management would have been much smaller, fewer animals would have been affected, and a crisis situation averted.

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