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Koalas Could Be Classified As Endangered After Bushfire Crisis

Koalas Could Be Classified As Endangered After Bushfire Crisis

The local population has taken an 'extraordinary hit' during this unprecedented bushfire season.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

There has been no shortage of devastating stories that have emerged from this unprecedented bushfire season.

More than 26 people have been killed and millions of hectares of land have been burned to a crisp, leaving scores of people without a home or land to return to.

Heartbreakingly, hundreds of millions of animals have also perished and no species has been more decimated than the beautiful koala.

Port Macquarie Koala Hospital/Facebook

Because these bushfires have occurred in koala-rich locations, they could soon have their status downgraded.

Environment minister Sussan Ley has revealed that koalas could be listed as endangered as a result of the bushfire crisis. The federal MP has announced a $50 million funding package to help animal populations bounce back once the bushfires have died down.

Ms Ley told reporters while unveiling the additional funding: "It may be necessary... to see whether in certain parts of the country, koalas move from where they are, which is often vulnerable, up to endangered."

Half of the funds will go towards wildlife carers, hospitals and zoos, who will be the best people to lead the repopulation and rehousing efforts.

But as attention is being paid towards getting the local koala population back up and running, there are calls for loads of the animal to be sent across the Tasman.

The Koala Relocation Society reckons it would be better to send some of the marsupials over to New Zealand, which has a suitable ecosystem for them already.

The group has released a statement, saying: "Koalas are functionally extinct in Australia, and could thrive in New Zealand, as many other Australasian species do.

Keli the baby Koala was saved by vets.
The Port Macquarie Koala Hospital

"They would not compromise our local eco-system, as koalas typically inhabit open eucalypt woodlands, and the leaves of these trees make up most of their diet.

"New Zealand has 28,575 hectares planted in eucalypts, most are located in the Central North Island, and are similar to much older forests from Australia, as they grow fast here."

The idea has been shot down by New Zealand government officials who say it's not high on their priority list at the moment and the best way forward is helping the firefighters.

That hasn't stopped thousands of people signing a petition which is also advocating for koalas to be brought across the ditch to help them thrive and hopefully survive.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: News, Bushfires, Animals, Australia