A mother and baby koala on the lookout for dogs at Southern Cross University. Photo by Alicia Carter.
A mother and baby koala on the lookout for dogs at Southern Cross University. Photo by Alicia Carter.

Koalas under threat from dogs

The number of dog attacks on koalas has increased dramatically with 16 suspected cases reported to Friends of the Koala since July. Care co-ordinator Barbara Dobner said that is three times as many as they had for the same time last year.

“The year before we only had six for the whole year,” she said. “I've got no idea why (there has been such an increase). I put it down to how long it's been since we've had rain and the leaf quality being such poor quality.

“We've had a lot of calls to some really strange places so we know they are moving around a lot.

“It is the breeding season so they are normally moving around more at this time of year looking for food.”

Barbara said it is important that if a dog owner becomes aware of an attack that they call the Friends of the Koala hotline immediately on 6622 1233, any time of day or night.

“A speedy response is essential... Although a dog attack can mean the death of a koala, if veterinary attention is received quickly, the chances for recovery increase dramatically,” she said.

A koala with even a small bite from a dog will die a long and painful death if left untreated.

Seeing it bound up the trunk of a tree, away from an excited dog may seem like the danger has been averted, but the koala's skin may have been punctured.

Locating small wounds in a koala's dense coat is difficult and requires professional attention.

“If there is any question at all, (that the dog has attacked the koala) it's best to call us and get the koala checked out. The damage on the inside is so much greater than on the outside,” Barbara said.

She said even small dogs can cause serious damage to kolas and, although most dog owners are responsible and keep their dogs secured, many of the recent attacks have been when the koalas have come into the area where the dogs are kept.

“They have no dog sense at all,” Barbara said.

She urged anyone with a dog in a pen to consider putting a roof or some netting over it.

Or if the dog is normally chained up at night and they are aware that there is a koala nearby, to keep the dog in the laundry until the koala has moved on.


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