Dead, injured koalas found at Vic property

Christine McGinn
Authorities are investigating koala deaths and injuries at a property in southwest Victoria

Scores of koalas found dead and injured following a timber harvesting operation on privately-held land in Victoria's southwest has sparked fury over the "abysmal act".

At least 40 koalas are understood to have starved or been killed during logging at Cape Bridgewater, near Portland, authorities said on Monday.

Victorian Chief Conservation Regulator Kate Gavens said an investigation was underway into the incident.

"It is a live situation but we are looking at least 40 animals (dead) at this stage and we expect that number to increase," Ms Gavens told reporters.

"There are a diverse range of issues here. One of them is starvation and ... potentially, injuries from the harvesting of timber on the site.

"We are certainly treating animals for both of those issues."

About 80 koalas have been assessed and are in the care of authorities.

Environment department staff have been at the site since Friday and expect to remain in the coming days to care for and remove all the animals.

Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio said vegetation had been removed by contractors at the property and the owner is understood to have undertaken further clearance works.

"I don't think anyone can be in any doubt that the devastation that has befallen many koalas in this part of Portland is an abysmal act," she said.

"It is a crime, it is cruel and it should not be allowed to be gotten away with."

Friends of the Earth previously claimed there had been reports of hundreds of starving koalas during a logging harvest completed in late December.

On Sunday, the group said people had seen dead koalas being bulldozed into slash piles.

The landowners are co-operating with authorities, Ms Gavens said.

Ms D'Ambrosio vowed the perpetrators would be hit with the full force of the law, with her warning repeated by Premier Daniel Andrews, who left a stark message on Twitter.

"If these deaths are found to be deliberate, we expect swift action against those responsible," he said.

The owner of the farm declined to comment when contacted by AAP.

Wilderness Society national campaign director Amelia Young called on all governments to commit to co-ordinated safeguards for wildlife and their habitats.

"We need stronger laws at all levels and proper resourcing for environment agencies so that laws can be enforced," she said.

Koalas are at risk of being listed as endangered following Australia's bushfires.