Koala monitoring continues at The Mill

Published 11:52am 22 May 2022

Koala monitoring continues at The Mill
Words by Jodie Powell

Koalas living in bushland habitat at The Mill at Moreton Bay at Petrie will continued to be monitored by a specialist service until the end of the year while construction continues at the site.

As part of the development of The Mill, Moreton Bay Regional Council has contracted Endeavour Veterinary Ecology (EVE) to monitor koalas since 2017, but the contract for phase four of the program is due to end on June 30.

However operational and construction works are expected to continue at The Mill until the end of 2022, so Council has awarded phase five of the contract to EVE.

More than monitoring

With intensive construction expected to end in December, Council officers are investigating options for a revised approach to monitoring to achieve long-term cost-effective koala welfare outcomes.

Cr Mick Gillam (Div 8) says the koala project involves more than simply monitoring the marsupials.

“(University of the Sunshine Coast) have been working on a chlamydia vaccine and looking after the health of the koalas that are there,” Cr Gillam says.

“Just in the last couple of years, the koala population since we started has risen from 45 in The Mill site to 119.

“The program that we have through EVE is definitely bearing fruit.

“It takes us through to the end of the year and once it’s over we will be looking to hopefully a less costly means of monitoring koalas – but we really need to keep this going until the end of the year.”

Councillors voted unanimously to extend the program at last week’s Council meeting.

A report from Council officers said phase one of monitoring, from March 1-June 2017, involved an intensive site assessment to identify and tag all koalas on The Mill at Moreton Bay site.

Growing population

“EVE identified 45 koalas which were health checked and fitted with telemetry devices for monitoring purposes,” the report said.

In phase two, from July 1, 2017 to 30 June 2018, EVE continued monitoring, helping to ensure no koalas were injured or killed as a result of construction works.

By June 2018, 53 koalas had been fitted with the telemetry devices

At the end of phase three on April 30, 2020, a total of 86 koalas had been fitted with the devices.

Ongoing work

A review of site construction works in 2020 found ongoing and extensive construction was planned to continue for another two years, including emptying and reprofiling disused settlement ponds in preparation for mass planting, sparking phase four of koala monitoring.

“Despite the intensity of works across the site increasing in and around known koala habitat, the koala monitoring program continues to be effective, with no koalas being killed or injured as a result of construction works,” the officers’ report said.

By January 31 this year, 119 koalas had been fitted with telemetry devices.

“The project has also supported the University of Sunshine Coast’s research in combating disease in koala populations that will benefit the koala not only in south east Queensland but in all koala habitats across Australia,” Council officers said.

Read more local news here.

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