Hundreds Of Koalas Feared Killed During Logging Project In Victoria
Hundreds of koalas have reportedly been killed during a logging project in Victoria.
Environmental group Friends of the Earth believes a 'koala massacre' is underway in Portland after claims emerged that loads of the animal were dying.
Loggers have been tearing down bluegum trees in a plantation near Cape Bridgewater and it's believed the koalas have either been displaced or injured during this operation.
More than 50 koalas have been rescued however 18 had to be euthanised because they were so severely injured.
Friends of the Earth wrote: "A logging harvest was completed in late December 2019, where reports came in about the plight of hundreds of starving koalas.
"A couple of days ago people apparently witnessed the bulldozing of many dead koalas into slash piles.
"Friends of the Earth is alarmed that such wanton destruction and widespread death and injuries continue to plague the south west Victorian plantation industry.
"The problem is complex, with the animals in question descendants of translocated animals brought in from Gippsland. These animals are chlamydia free and suffer from booms and busts in their population cycles."
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning has launched an investigation into the claims and said it is extremely disturbed by the reports.
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A spokesperson has told AAP: "If this is found to be due to deliberate human action, we expect the Conservator Regular to act swiftly against those responsible.
"DELWP was onsite on Friday. A number of animals were removed and were assessed and are now being cared for by local rehabilitation volunteers."
According to Friends of the Earth, Australian Bluegum Plantations had a lease on the area until 2016, then the land was handed over by South West Fibre, before it was given to a private landholder.
Animals Australia and Vets For Compassion have sent in teams to help care for any surviving koalas as well as assess those that have been killed.
Attention is now turning to whether there was any breach of the Cruelty of Animals Act, which can attract a fine of $8,000 and a further $800 per animal killed.
Shadow Attorney-General Edward O'Donohue wants a full investigation into the allegations.
"It's deeply disturbing, the report of numerous deaths of koalas, particularly on the back of the bushfires," he said.
It's heartbreaking to hear koalas being killed at such a massive rate considering how many have been wiped out by the recent bushfires.
Featured Image Credit: Friends of the Earth