Australian authorities have culled around 686 koala bears near scenic Cape Otway since 2013. It may sound like an cruel slaughter, but wildlife experts say it would be inhumane to let them live.
Koalas in the Cape Otway area are facing starvation, illness, and death because of a lack of food and overcrowding. Rather than letting the little creatures die slowly and painfully, the government has been intervening by culling the suffering Koalas.
Local Frank Fotinas, whose company runs Australia’s Camping Under Koalas, detailed the problem to the Washington Post.
“A lot more were dying naturally than were euthanized. The whole of the cape smelled of dead koalas. It smelled like death. You should come and look at the trees. There are hundreds of acres of dead trees.”
The past few hundred years have been pretty bad for the koala bear. The little eucalyptus eaters have lost roughly 80 percent of their original woodland habitat in Australia. The Washington Post reports the population has decreased from “millions” at the beginning of the last century, to roughly 50,000 to 100,000.
The Australian government eventually intervened, creating sanctuaries and relocating the koalas. Now, the little bears face a new problem — overpopulation.
MSN reports that Victoria state Environment Minister Lisa Neville defended the cull as sad but necessary.
She claims that the government considered different options to save the Koalas, but the cull seemed like the most humane approach for Australia’s symbolic animal.
She told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, “experience suggests that moving these koalas does not work and that can in fact cause even greater suffering.”
“We need to have a look at a koala management strategy to see whether we can reduce that population growth which continues at a very fast pace.”
According to the Guardian, one Koala needs about one hectare (2.5 acres) of woodland to thrive in Victoria, Australia. In Cape Otway, the population peaked at 20 koalas per hectare, and is now close to 11 per hectare.
Experts like Desley Whisson say there will probably be a need to cull more Koalas in the future.
“Until there is a change in thinking that allows for a very controlled euthanasia program, we will continue to have these issues. I’m not talking about letting any landholder shoot koalas. I’m talking about government bodies, with scientific input, removing them and euthanising them.”
According to Australia’s environmental laws, koalas can only be euthanized if they are critical, like the 686 already culled.
It seems that koala euthanasia will become a regular part of Australia’s environmental policies.
In case that is too sad, here’s a story about a koala in a canoe.
[Image Credit: Getty Images]