14 koalas, left stranded in Coomera as bulldozers set about destroying their habitat, will be taken in by Dreamworld.
The short-term solution has been rubber stamped by the Queensland Government, which is allowing the theme park to collect up to 25 of the marsupials from the wild as part of its captive breeding program.
The Coomera koala population is being threatened by a Stockland development, with at least 14 known to be in the area and essentially cut-off from their habitat corridor.
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In a statement, Environment Minister Steven Miles said his department had issued a new bridging authority which would allow Dreamworld to collect male koalas from non-protected areas in South-east Queensland for its breeding program.
“Dreamworld currently has the ability to take females from the wild, but with spring on the way, it was important for the project to be able to capture males as well,” Mr Miles said.
“This means Dreamworld has the ability to take up to 25 koalas of both sexes into its program,” he added.
“Any koalas they take will be part of a valuable breeding program and Dreamworld will return the koalas, and any resulting offspring, to a suitable habitat in the area later on.”
Dreamworld General Manager Life Sciences Al Mucci said the captive breeding program was part of a partnership with University of Queensland to explore new ways of protecting the genetic diversity of koalas in South-east Queensland.
“The bottom line is we cannot allow koalas to be lost when there are real prospects of protecting and securing their future as individuals and sub-populations,” Mr Mucci said.
“We need to think about how we manage and live with koalas if we want them to be around for the next generation.”
Nicole Taylor, spokesperson for the Coomera Conservation Group, said they were concerned about the fragmented pockets of koalas throughout South-east Queensland.
“The koalas at the Stockland site found themselves in this situation at the hands of humans due to development,” Ms Taylor said.
“Doing nothing means the koalas cannot disperse safely, and this would be akin to animal cruelty,” Ms Taylor explained.
“We have been calling on the State Government and the council to act now to ensure the koalas’ safety through rescue.
“So today’s news is a great step towards achieving a better outcome for these koalas.”