Dog Attack Fatalities
As a Wildcare koala rescuer with my wife Heidi, it is heart-breaking to attend a call out of a koala that has been attacked by a dog.
Most of the time the incident could have been avoidable by some very simple measures by the resident. Moreover, most of the time to make the situation more tragic, we often encounter healthy koalas which adds to the growing list of annual fatalities.
Recently we attended a call out at Clagiraba on an acreage property. We had visited the property numerous times. The owner’s dog had attacked two other koalas in the past and the koalas had to be euthanised.
It saddens and frustrates us as koala rescuers to be called out to such incidents at the same location and to have to deal with the consequences.
Many dog owner’s have expressed disbelief that their usually placid pooch was capable of killing a koala. Even small breeds of dogs have been responsible for koala fatalities including pugs.
Valuing Our Precious Wildlife
Sadly, the fault doesn’t lay with the dogs. Instinct kicks in when an unknown threat enters a dog’s territory. The fault lays squarely with the resident, and their values. Awareness plays a part, yet as in the case of the incident described above, it comes down to how much value a resident places on our unique native wildlife. Most of the time the answer is very little. If dog owner’s can invest the same amount of care in looking after our wildlife as they do their dogs, all equal sentient beings, then the number of koala and other wildlife fatalities would decrease dramatically. Part of the joy of living in areas where there are koalas is the seeing a koala and knowing that they are safe when they enter your property!
Keeping Koalas and Dogs Safe
The responsibility for the conservation of our koalas lays with all of us.
Some things you can do to keep our koalas safe are:
- Keeping your dog confined at night, either inside the house, on a veranda or patio, in a garage or carport, on a long lead or in a specially built run.
- Even if your dog is very friendly, they may try to protect their territory when a strange animal enters their yard. You can ensure the koala’s safe passage through your yard by keeping your dog confined at night, either inside the house, on a veranda or patio, in a garage or carport, on a long lead or in a specially built run.Koalas are most active from dusk to dawn as they are primarily on the move when we are asleep.
- If these options aren’t possible, restricting koala access to your yard may be the safest option. This can be done by ‘koala-proofing’ your fences. Overhanging trees and branches close to your fence may provide entry to koalas. If this is the case you may want to consider providing means for a koala to exit your yard such as placing logs vertically against your fence so that koalas can quickly climb up them.
For more information on how to make your backyard koala safe and if you don’t have dogs then ways to make it koala friendly then go to the City of Gold Coast’s Koala Conservation Education Program.
New Proposed Laws Good News For Gold Coast Koalas
For those dog owners who live in known koala habitat areas new proposed laws may mean that they will have to upgrade their fencing to keep koalas safe.
The proposed changes outlined in the Queensland State Government South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 released recently are a step in the right direction to ensure the safety of koalas (and our dogs), as well as placing responsibility and a duty of care for dog owners to keep koalas safe.
The ABC Gold Coast report goes on to say:
Landowners with dogs in these areas will be required to provide fencing that prevents a koala from entering the dog’s area, or structures that easily allow the koala to leave the area. People keeping dogs on large properties over 2000m2, will also be required to contain their dog between dusk and dawn. In addition, all dog owners in the City of Gold Coast area will have to contain their dog when they are aware a koala is in their yard.
For further information please refer to the SEQ koala strategy.