'Koala Massacre': Government Investigates After Dozens Of Koalas Found Dead
WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT
Dozens of koalas have been found dead and others have been forced to be euthanised because of their injuries after their habitat was logged in western Victoria.
The state government is now investigating who is responsible for the deaths of dozens of koalas that ended up scattered over the blue gum plantation.
A team of vets flew to Portland on Friday after distressing photos emerged online of squashed blue gum koala carcasses.
The vets have removed about 80 surviving koalas since Friday, according to ABC.
The koalas, which are at risk of being endangered after devastating bush fires, also showed signs of starvation.
Animals Justice MP Andy Meddick inspected a plantation outside Portland, Victoria on Sunday.
He told 10 daily the koalas were killed after trees were bulldozed.
"From what I've seen, trees have been torn down with koalas in them and koalas have met their deaths at the hands of the bulldozers as the trees are cannoned into each other, piled on top of each other," Meddick said.
While there is a professional team of rescuers helping to save injured animals, the devastation was absolutely horrific, he said.
I've been in this game for a long time and this is one of the most horrendous things I've seen in my life.
"I've seen the carcasses of animals that have clearly been squashed or have had their limbs imprisoned in trees," Meddick told 10 daily.
Koalas are protected under the Wildlife Act 1975 (Wildlife Act) and it's illegal to kill, injure or disturb them without authorisation, according to Victoria's Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning.
The welfare of all animals, including native wildlife, is also protected under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1988.
Animals Australia told 10 daily they sent four vets into the region to treat the surviving koalas.
"Koalas in the West of Victoria are suffering devastating habitat loss, so of course they are finding new homes in commercial Bluegum plantations. The logging of these forests then destroys precious habitat," Animals Australia wrote on Facebook.
The animal welfare group said plantations must provide koala spotters to identify koalas in trees before logging, so that the animals can be safely removed and relocated.
Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Forest Products Association Ross Hampton denied a forestry or plantation company was responsible for the "koala massacre" and said AFPA will be lunching their own investigation.
Hampton said on Sunday that he was "appalled" at "what appears to be a callous act of animal cruelty.”
“It is unclear as yet who bulldozed the trees with the koalas apparently still in them, but it is absolutely certain that this was not a plantation or a forestry company,” Hampton said.
“I’m advised that the operators in this case were so careful that they even took an injured koala which they found during inspection to the vet. I’m advised harvest of this area ended in November and the land was handed back to the owner before Christmas,“ he said.
In a statement on Sunday, Greens Spokesperson for the Environment Senator Sarah Hanson-Young said she had written to the Victorian and Federal Environment Ministers to ask them to investigate.
“Thousands of koalas have died in the fires across the country and now it seems even more are dead because of logging in their habitat,” Senator Hanson-Young said.
“The private companies involved must explain their actions and if laws have been broken they must be held accountable. I've contacted the companies involved seeking an urgent meeting."
Senator Hanson-Young said she is seeking those involved to brought before the Faunal Extinction Inquiry.
10 daily has contacted The Department of Environment, Land and Protection for comment.
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