Gunnedah’s koalas are on the move and drivers are being reminded to keep an eye out for our furry friends.
Koalas are taking to the ground to look for a mate and are further motivated by a need for water in the soaring summer temperatures.
On Tuesday, the Namoi Valley Independent was saddened to see a new road victim on the side of the Kamilaroi Highway between Curlewis and Nea.
Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group (GULG) member Angela Baker also spotted the koala that morning and said he was likely hit at dusk the day before or dawn.
“It was a young male who looked like he’d been in good health before the accident,” she said.
“He had no wet bottom, no sign of conjunctivitis.”
Ms Baker lives near Nea and said she hadn’t seen a koala in the former hot spot for three or four years.
“That was the frustrating thing. I haven’t seen one for so long,” she said.
The landcare volunteer said koala did not see vehicles as an issue when they are crossing roads and drivers need to be “vigilant”.
“They’re on a mission to get on a tree or find a mate,” she said.
“Definitely at dusk and dawn are the main times they could be walking around.
“They’re looking for new feed tree or shelter tree part in this heat.”
The koala was killed not far from a new sign put up by GULG members George Truman and Mark Kesby in late December.
The sign is one of 10 that the group have installed at koala hot spots including Quia Road, Kamilaroi Highway and the Oxley Highway in the directions of Mullaley and Carroll. The signs read “Koalas deaths here. Slow down.”
There are plans to take the signs down in winter when koalas are less active and put them back up in breeding season.
GULG is also helping to find suitable spots for Blinky Drinkers with two already installed along Wandobah Road and in the grounds of the Gunnedah Resource Centre.
Blinky Drinkers are water drinkers placed on trees to give koalas access to water. They were designed by local farmer Robert Frend who trialled them to great success.
The drinkers are being manufactured under the Office of Environment and Heritage’s Saving Our Species program.
The state government has identified the koala as “one of six ‘icon species’ that rate special attention”, according to the program’s principal project officer and former Gunnedah resident, David Walker.
GULG member Rod Browne has been assisting with the installation of the drinkers and said there were seven more to be installed.
“It’s a matter of finding a suitable site and one’s where koalas are about and one that won’t be too exposed to vandalism. So we’re going cautiously at the moment,” he said.
Mr Browne said some drinkers would be complimented by cameras which could also make them a target for vandals.
The volunteer said more sites were needed for the drinkers and volunteers to help install them.
“Landholders with koala habitat on their properties will be needed to host some of the Blinky Drinkers,” he said.
Mr Browne said those who host the drinkers will need to check them and top them up about once a month.
GULG will hold a meeting on Wednesday, January 18 to discuss the Gunnedah Koala Conservation Plan for Landcare and Community Groups.
“We’re going to review koala conservation plan and the aim of the meeting is to investigate how that plan could be implemented,” Mr Browne said.
“We’ll need to explore options. See who wants to be involved.
“We only have limited resources and so we can’t do it on our own.”
The meeting will be held at 6pm in the Baxter Room at the Gunnedah Services and Bowling Club. Community members and groups are encouraged to attend to find out how they can help save Gunnedah koalas.
If you’re interested in joining Gunnedah Urban Landcare Group or keeping up with their good work, visit the group’s Facebook page or phone 0427 007 826.
More on the koala conservation plan and Blinky Drinkers soon at nvi.com.au