Koala safety on Toowoomba Range roadworks project concerns community

Koala safety on Toowoomba Range roadworks project concerns community

Koala safety on Toowoomba Range roadworks project concerns community

Updated 23 September 2017, 8:55 AEST

A Queensland conservationist is raising concerns that development on the Darling Downs is threatening koalas and other native wildlife.

A koala was killed on Wednesday at roadworks near Toowoomba's Second Range Crossing, but wildlife carers say that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the threat to the koala's natural habitat.

Toowoomba resident James Vailahi this week stopped peak hour traffic on the busy Toowoomba Range to rescue a koala.

He said he did not consider his own safety until after he had completed the rescue.

"I just felt sorry for the little fella you know, because it was just sitting there in shock and we just wanted to get it off the road," Mr Vailahi said.

"That was the first time I'd ever seen one up [close] in person, other than in a zoo."

Mr Vailahi looked after the koala until a wildlife carer could collect it.

"I hope the little fella is alright," he said.

Koala death 'heartbreaking' says carer

Toowoomba wildlife carer Clare Gover said there had been an increase in koala movement across the Darling Downs region.

"It's spring, it's breeding season and the koalas are on the move, but it's also because we've got a heatwave, we've got drought and they're looking for food," Ms Gover said.

She said Nexus, the company building Toowoomba's Second Range Crossing, had taken its responsibility of caring for wildlife seriously.

Nevertheless, she said she was devastated about the death of the koala.

"It's heartbreaking because this particular animal was a big, healthy, beautiful boy and he had a really good body score. It breaks my heart," she said.

"Even though the development may look very destructive, and it is, they have been very responsible.

"On the New England Highway, between Highfields and Crows Nest, we are constantly and regularly getting koalas hit by vehicles."

Koalas spending more time on the ground

Ms Gover raised concerns that a large number of small developments has created a larger regional impact.

"It's having a devastating effect," she said.

"The koala [as a species] is spending more and more time on the ground than ever before and he's not going to survive.

"This is where he gets hit by cars, attacked by dogs, and succumbs to disease because his immune system is in distress."

She said the impact was upsetting locals who had moved to the area to enjoy the wildlife.

"I'm very angry because I'm the one, like other carers and other people concerned, who has to pick up these bodies or these mangled animals and try and rehabilitate them," Ms Gover said.

"It's very traumatic for us, it's very traumatic for them, because these animals are often in a really bad situation and have to be euthanised or they die from their injuries.

"Sometimes I get the females and they have a joey and I hold that joey in my arms when it's dying; I can't explain how horrible that is.

"What are you going to tell your grandchildren when you say, 'well I was alive when there were koalas living in the wild but they're no longer here'?"