A REPORT on improving koala populations in Coffs Harbour City areas through the installation of fencing and signage will be undertaken by Coffs Harbour City Council, following discussion on the issue at Council’s recent ordinary meeting on Thursday, 10 September.
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Cr Sally Townley called for Council to prepare a report outlining options and costings for improving koala populations in urban areas, including discussion of fencing and/or relocation options and costings for Hogbin Drive, Coffs Harbour.
Cr Townley said in recent weeks five koalas were reported to have been killed on Hogbin Drive.
“In Coffs Harbour LGA, a highly significant koala population is present, but is vulnerable from disease, road death and dog attack,” Cr Townley said at the recent meeting.
“We are extremely fortunate to still have a population of wild koalas living in our urban area, but they are very much at risk, particularly of road death.
“This is highly concerning and requires immediate response by Council.”
Cr Townley said roadside fencing had been shown to be highly effective in protecting koalas.
“The fencing is a great workable way to create a barrier between koalas and fast cars,” she said.
“Research into suitable locations for fencing at ‘black spots’ is needed to identify priority areas for fencing, costings are required to plan for implementation, and funding sources need to be identified.
“Signage can also play a role, and urgent investigation is needed into provision of appropriately located signs.”
Cr Keith Rhoades however didn’t believe fencing in the koalas was the answer, and likened this measure to “creating a prison”.
“By fencing them you are putting them in jail,” Cr Rhoades stressed.
“The potential is just mind boggling of the damage that can be done by creating a prison.
“You are fencing in koalas and what happens, people cut through fences, dogs get in.”
Cr Rhoades said Council needed to instead find funding to relocate the koalas.
“If it’s becoming a problem that great, we should be looking at ways to relocate,” he said.
Cr George Cecato also called on Council to relocate the koalas 30 to 40 kilometres away where there were alot of Eucalyptus trees.
“I think we should do whatever we can to support the koalas,” he said.
Cr Townley said she was happy to have a discussion on relocating the koalas.
“But I’m 100 percent certain that a discussion about relocation with experts will come back clearly in the negative,” she said.
Council resolved to prepare a report on the matter.
“I look forward to getting back a report from our staff which gives credible, scientific and expert advice to us on all of these options,” Cr Townley said.
By Emma DARBIN