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    Landcare News Items

    Lending a hand to Cool Country Koalas

    Koala Inverell320Northern Tablelands Local Lands Services has been researching the location of koalas across the Northern Tablelands since 2016.

    Image - A koala west of Inverell - the Cool Country Koala project found high koala activity around Inverell and Delungra.

    The study is helping determine the status of the koala on the Northern Tablelands. The latest round of monitoring in 2018 was undertaken by the University of the Sunshine Coast. It focused on areas around Tenterfield and north of Glen Innes and the results are in. It also included an analysis of tree species where koala scats (poo) were found.

    The study will help Northern Tablelands Local Land Services decide how they can best help koalas in the region.

    Elsie Baker, from Northern Tablelands Local Land Services, is delighted that as part of the research, a new population has been identified near Tenterfield.

    “Anecdotally, we’ve had reports that koala numbers on the tablelands were dropping, but until recently, there’s been no evidence to back that,” explained Elsie.

    “The latest report from the University of the Sunshine Coast indicates that in 2018, koalas in Glen Innes, Emmaville and Tenterfield were likely to be declining. On a positive note, a healthy population north of Tenterfield has been found, previously not known to experts,” she said.

    University of the Sunshine Coast’s Russell Miller and Baxter the dog have been integral to the study in identifying koala scats on Travelling Stock Reserves (TSRs) near Glen Innes, Emmaville, Deepwater and Tenterfield. Koalas excrete up to 150 times a day, facilitating the tracking process. Concurrently, Russell recorded the tree species under which koala scats were located.

    The most common trees used by koalas in these areas were identified as New England Stringybark “Eucalyptus caliginosa”, Mountain Blue Gum “Eucalyptus deanei”, Blakely's Red Gum “Eucalyptus blakelyi” and Spotted Gum “Corymbia maculate.”

    “In previous years, the Cool Country Koala Project found high activity in areas such as Inverell/Delungra, Nowendoc and Armidale/Uralla but very low activity in others such as Ashford, an area with many historic koala records up to 2010. We don’t yet know what is causing the decline,” noted Elsie.

    Northern Tablelands Local Land Services will be conducting a pilot study in the coming months on two healthy populations. The University of the Sunshine Coast will be collecting fresh scats to test the koala populations’ genetics.

    “Through this research, we’re hoping to learn more about the koala population structures, if they are isolated and if they are in-bred,” Elsie explained.

    Further koala surveys are currently carried out by researchers, specifically around Delungra and Armidale.

    “This is a terrific opportunity to collect as much relevant data as possible to ensure that we are able to assist with the health and sustainability of our koala populations into the future”, said Elsie.

    For more information about the Cool Country Koala project, contact Elsie Baker at Northern Tablelands Local Land Services on 0439 094 286.

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