'I feel devastated': Investigators rush to timber plantation after koalas spotted in felled trees

Investigators are heading to a Victorian property on Tuesday morning after welfare concerns were raised about koalas living in felled trees

On Monday, koala advocate Helen Oakley received an anonymous tip off from a local farmer who was worried about the animals – a mother and her joey.

Ms Oakley told Yahoo News Australia she then headed to the Cashmore property, near Portland, where she located a juvenile in trees ringed in plastic and earmarked for logging.

Helen Oakley raised concerns about three koalas living in felled trees at a property near Portland. Source: Helen Oakley
A koala mother and her joey found living in a fallen tree near Portland. Source: Helen Oakley

“I went down Foley’s Road about a couple of kilometres and saw all of the pushed up piles of blue gums,” she told Yahoo News Australia. 

“In the driveway of that plantation there were 10 trees to the left, and right up the top there was a little baby. 

Flies were buzzing nearby around the stack of logs, but the pile was too high for Ms Oakley to climb and investigate.

Further up the road, she located the mother and joey she had as well as a large male in the fallen gums.

“I feel devastated,” she said. 

“Somethings got to be done, I don’t know what the answer is.”

Ms Oakley noticed a juvenile koala in trees that appeared to be slated for logging. Source: Helen Oakley

Chief Conservation Regulator for the Victorian government, Kate Gavens, confirmed in a statement on Monday night that the government will conduct a site inspection. 

“This matter was reported to the Conservation Regulator on Monday evening,” she said.  

“There will be Conservation Regulator investigators on the ground first thing in the morning.”

Plantation manager says koalas not in felled trees

A spokesperson for Australian Bluegum Plantations confirmed they felled the trees, but said there were no koalas living in them at the time.

“There have been no koalas affected by an urgent safety decision to fell a group of trees near a road,” he said.

“A small cluster of trees, that were checked by specialists to confirm they contained no koalas, were felled as they were presenting a safety risk to an adjacent road.

“Two trees had previously fallen over the road in high winds.

“After the koala-cleared trees have been felled as a safety measure, a small number of koalas have moved into the trees on the ground, which occurs from time to time in these instances.

“The koalas stay for a short time before moving on to other locations.

“The koalas are being checked regularly to ensure they are safe and well. The fallen trees will not be touched until the koalas have moved on.

“The blue gum plantation sector has a zero-harm goal for the tens of thousands of koalas that have migrated into the blue gums from nearby national parks.”

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