Ooooooooooooooo a call for Aussies.....and it's science related no less..........*bounces off the walls*....
This issue has been around for a few years. And it's not as simple as it sounds.
The koalas are not native to Kangaroo Island. In the 1920s, eighteen koalas were introduced to the island. It was part of an experiment to save threatened animal species on the mainland of Australia. Not all the introduced species survived.Kangaroo Island InformationKangaroo Island - Koalas
A TNR program has been costed and is far too expensive for the government. This program was abandoned in 2000.
The current reason for the government resisting the calls for the koala cull to begin is the risk of losing tourism dollars. Nevermind looking at the big picture of the ecosystem going down the sewer and losing those dollars for good, just look at the short term. And this is coming from the Environment Minister of the South Australian Government.
He's refusing to listen to the South Australian Nature Conservation Society who actually supports the cull and to a scientist that was previously part of the task force that looked into the issue. This guy needs to be re-assigned the Tourism portfolio, and someone else with basic scientific knowledge given the Environment portfolio.Australian Report on Call for Koala Cull
And, there are other problems with relocation. Remember I said that originally only 18 koalas were introduced and now there are thousands? Well, think of the inbreeding that has occurred. Relocation won't necessarily mean providing new genetic material into a population established on the mainland.
Also with relocation, thorough research has to be done of the new home just as we would do when finding homes for cats. You don't want to destabilise either population of koalas, have to make sure that the eucalypts are good enough to eat for the koala. You thought cats could be fussy, just wait till you hear about the koala! They don't eat any old leaf from any old tree. It has to be the right species, and I think it's only three species that are considered to be food sources! And even then, the soil has to be free of toxins so the leaves of the trees are free of toxins.
The koalas on Kangaroo Island appear to be chlamydia free. Koalas normally carry the disease and is usually part of natural death of koalas. It's assumed that the koalas on Kangaroo Island don't have the resistance to chlamydia and when exposed to it on the mainland will die.
You probably picture Kangaroo Island being heavily forested with eucalyptus trees. Well actually much of it has been cleared for farmland limiting the amount of trees for the koala population. There is no tree planting program in place to replace trees in the wild as potential new food sources. And lack of trees also means lack of homes for the koalas so population density of the koalas will be higher than those on the mainland of Australia.
Not only all this, it is also possible that there is a disease killing the trees on Kangaroo Island. They have found the fungus Phytophthera on the island in 1994, the same fungus that caused the Sudden Oak Syndrom in USA.Australian Koala Federation It's a long article but it is full of information
And as for the cull, it does need to be performed for the greater good of saving the ecosystem. In addition to this, reforestation programs need to be established as soon as possible and land management practices need to be addressed. Tree corridors should also be established if there aren't any so koala populations are able to disperse.