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Call for landholders and citizen scientists in koala search

Researchers looking for signs of koalas in the Northern Tablelands are calling on locals to get involved in the Cool Country Koala Project. They’re seeking help from landholders who may have koalas on their farms, and they’re also inviting ‘citizen scientists’ to assist in data collection.

The Cool Country Koalas Project is a partnership between Northern Tablelands Local Land Services and the Detection Dogs for Conservation team from the University of the Sunshine Coast. The project is seeking to address the lack of reliable information about koala populations on the Northern Tablelands and to avert the decline of koala colonies in this region.

Unfortunately Baxter, the project’s koala detection dog, has so far found very few signs of koala scats (droppings) in the region, and even fewer sightings of live koalas.

Merilyn Duffy from ‘Eleanor Park’ on the Severn River, north west of Ashford, welcomed the researchers on her property.

“The researchers brought the sniffer dog to our place and although they didn’t spot any koalas on the day, I’m still hopeful they might be out and about on the property. I would be thrilled to find a koala on the place,” said Merilyn.

Mick Lewis was also keen to look for koalas on his property, ‘Tumbledown’, north of Ashford. “I think it’s a great move that they are trying to get a more accurate idea of their numbers in the region. I love koalas and we would be very happy to see more on our place,” said Mick.

Ecologist and project dog handler, Dan Nugent, said most of the koala scat surveys have taken place in the Ashford region on private land, on Travelling Stock Reserves, and within National Park land.

“We would like to thank the kind land managers who not only allowed us to survey their properties but often took the time to show us around, which we greatly appreciated,” said Dan.

"We will continue our research near Delungra and surrounding areas in November, and we are hoping more landholders will allow us to access their properties to help build the best possible picture of koala distribution in the region."

"We would also like to thank members of the community who are already reporting koala sightings to the Atlas of Living Australia or to the Northern Tablelands Local Land Services directly. Please keep it up as this information is crucial in understanding where koalas are occurring and how to manage threats to their well-being,” said Dan.

University of the Sunshine Coast project coordinator, Romane Cristescu, has been delighted with the community support the researchers have received. “It’s really positive because koalas don’t only live on public reserves and National Parks. It will be critical for the project’s success to recruit more local people on the ground to provide us with ongoing information,” said Romane.

Cool Country Koalas Project community workshops are scheduled for Delungra and Glen Innes in November. If you have information about koala populations on the Northern Tablelands, or you’d like to find out more about the research project or workshops, contact Carina Johnson on 0477 395 631.

Media contact: Annabelle Monie 0429 626 326, 02 6720 8317