A desperate koala has been filmed taking refuge on top of a power pole in rural Victoria on Thursday. Days earlier the trees on the same Portland street had been felled by council.
Footage of the koala supplied to Yahoo News Australia shows a flat, denuded suburban intersection. The only greenery are the well-watered grassy nature strips.
Cars and trucks can be seen driving by in the video, creating a hazardous environment for wildlife trying to traverse the area. The animal was filmed by local wildlife advocate Helen Oakley. She believes the koala likely fled up the pole after being chased by someone’s pet dog.
Fearing the animal was stressed, unable to find shade, and hungry, Ms Oakley called for assistance from the power company and an animal rescuer. But even though the animal has since been relocated, she fears for the future of the street's wildlife should more trees be removed.
“I think it’s an absolute disgrace, it's appalling," she said. "The trees were removed on the opposite side of the road."
While koalas do not eat Norfolk Island hibiscus trees, they can provide shelter and respite for the animals as they try to navigate suburbia.
“There was always possum and koala poo under the trees,” she said. “The canopy used to cool houses down and shelter birds, but now it’s looking absolutely barren.”
Portland koalas regularly displaced
Glenelg Council did not respond to a request for comment from Yahoo News Australia. It told local media the trees it removed had structural issues and would be replaced next year. It remains unclear what measures have been undertaken to assist wildlife that had utilised the trees.
It’s not unusual to see wildlife displaced in the Portland area. Outside of the urban centre, many of the region’s koalas live in plantations that are regularly felled to create high-end paper for the Japanese market. Thirteen were mysteriously found dead in a plantation this year.
Portland is also home to a large aluminium smelter that has a significant koala population, a number of whom were euthanised this year due to health concerns. The Victoria government also accidentally killed a number this year during a scheduled burn.
Unlike in NSW, ACT and Queensland where koalas are listed as endangered, Victoria’s koalas are considered overabundant in some parts. Overabundance usually occurs when habitat is destroyed on private land, driving large numbers of koalas into national parks and state forests.
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