Koala population surveyed on EP

Natural Resources Eyre Peninsula are conducting a series of koala distribution surveys to determine koala numbers and the level of threat they pose to local woodland vegetation.

SURVEY: Natural Resources Officer Fred Pickett pointing to one of the koalas recorded in the recent EP Natural Resources Management Board's koala density studies.

SURVEY: Natural Resources Officer Fred Pickett pointing to one of the koalas recorded in the recent EP Natural Resources Management Board's koala density studies.

The community-based approach for effectively managing koalas on the EP intends to work with citizen-scientists to gather information about koala abundance and distribution, and their concerns about koalas, as well as collecting a baseline monitoring data of habitats looking at the condition of vegetation at set sites.

Set sites will also be monitored to determine koala populations, before a management plan is written with community input to implement appropriate actions. 

Six koalas were introduced to the EP in 1969 and spread rapidly, which the NREP said has provided for a range of opportunities that benefit the local tourism industry. 

However, they pose a serious threat to the endangered Eyre Peninsula blue gum woodlands, and the animals are estimated to occupy an area of 1500 square kilometres on the southern EP.

The project will be completed by June 30, 2019, after having run for two years with a budget of $145,000. 

Planning and assessment officer Andrew Freeman said the same monitoring was undertaken for the first time in early 2018, and said the population was stable. 

"Natural Resources EP staff have been out over the last fortnight undertaking koala density monitoring at three sites on southern Eyre Peninsula," he said. 

"If koala numbers increase too much this can cause damage to their favourite food trees (Manna gums and River red gums) and result in a lack of food for koalas.

"This is important particularly in areas like Eyre Peninsula, where koalas have been introduced so trees haven't adapted to this impact."

You can report your EP koala sightings to epkoalas.com.au.