The Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning (DELWP) will today resume its koala management program on private properties at Cape Otway in Victoria’s south-west.

KoalaThe Autumn 2017 program is part of DELWP’s Cape Otway Koala Management Actions to manage the koala population and help the recovery of the Manna Gum woodland.  The program, which will run for two weeks, will include health checks, fertility control, and translocation of koalas to the Great Otway National Park.

Overabundance of koalas at Cape Otway is a challenging, long-term issue resulting from the koalas’ love of Manna Gums and their reluctance to change food source, as well as favourable climatic conditions and an absence of predators.

DELWP Resource Protection and Management Program Manager, Jim O'Brien said: "DELWP’s management programs have so far resulted in a more sustainable koala population across private properties, with a reduction from an average of 13.9 koalas per hectare in October 2015, to 4.2 koalas per hectare in March 2017. A sustainable koala density is believed to be approximately one koala per hectare.

“While the overall koala and habitat health at Cape Otway has improved, relatively high koala densities still remain on some properties, and further actions are needed to continue to manage the population.

“Areas with the highest koala densities and declining habitat will be targeted for translocation and fertility control of females that have not been previously caught. This will help reduce the breeding rates in the future by minimising the percentage of the population that can breed.

"The Manna Gums at Cape Otway have suffered and declined significantly due to severe koala over-browsing since 2012. The translocation of koalas to a habitat of mixed Eucalyptus tree species in the Great Otway National Park will continue to help the Manna Gum woodland to recover and prevent any potential koala welfare issues.

"The health of all captured koalas will be assessed and koalas fit for release will be returned to their home range. Any unhealthy koalas assessed as too sick or having other serious health issues, will be humanely euthanased to prevent further suffering," Mr O'Brien said.

DELWP has delivered five management programs at Cape Otway in the past three years including a health assessment in May 2015, a welfare intervention and trial translocation in September 2015, a large-scale translocation in November/December 2015, a fertility control and health check program in May 2016 and a fertility control, health check and translocation in November/December 2016.