Following the release of data showing that the State Government has only trained three (3) dogs to detect koalas and none were being deployed in State Forests, Greens MP Dawn Walker has called for koala sniffer dogs to be widely used in pre-logging surveys to better protect NSW’s declining koala populations from destructive logging.
“This is a Government that has an appalling record when it comes to protecting our koalas with their own reports stating that koalas in NSW have declined by more than 25% in the past 15 to 20 years.
“What’s worrying is that ecologists consistently tell me how Forestry Corporation is failing to identify or even properly search for koalas and their high-use habitat before they commence logging operations.
“We believe that the deployment of koala-trained sniffer dogs in our State Forests will be a much more reliable and accurate way to detect koalas and their core habitat, than the current method that requires loggers to manually search through dense leaf litter looking for koala scats.
“This is a Government that is trying to weaken the already poorly-implemented methods Forestry Corporation use to identify koalas and their habitat, such as through scat searches.
“It’s time they started to take koala conservation seriously and in the very least, commit to independent trials of koala sniffer dogs as part of pre-logging surveys with the view to expanding them across the State” said Dawn Walker MP.
In 2013, a trial using the world’s first koala sniffer dog, Oscar to identify koala populations in Royal Camp State Forest resulted in multiple detections of koalas and the development of forestry operation plans that excluded Koala High Use areas from logging.
Dawn Walker’s questions to the NSW Government:
In 2016, the Government announced a team of sniffer dogs would be used to find threatened species as part of the Saving Our Species program. In regards to the initiative:
1. How many dogs have been trained in this program?
2. How many of the dogs have been trained to find koalas?
3. Are the dogs being used in our State forests?
a. If not, why not?
I am advised:
1. The Saving our Species (SoS) program has trained and used seven dogs.
2. Of these seven, three have been trained to detect koalas and a fourth is being trained.
a. There are no SoS koala projects being conducted in state forests that require sniffer dogs.
(Image credit: Harriet Tatham, ABC Sunshine Coast)