Koalas and other wildlife affected by bushfires on Kangaroo Island must be managed locally and not removed from the island.
Department for Environment and Water bushfire recovery coordinator Brenton Grear said it was particularly important that the island’s koalas – which make up the only population in South Australia free of chlamydia – remain disease-free.
“We’ve received reports that some koalas from Kangaroo Island have been taken to Adelaide by people who want to get help for them,” he said.
“It’s understandable and heartening that people want to rescue these animals, but unfortunately it will mean that those koalas can’t be returned to the island because of the risk of contamination of the population there.”
Chlamydia in koalas can cause blindness, bladder inflammation, infertility and death. As the island’s koalas are isolated and free of the disease, its introduction would devastate the population.
Because of the size of the fires burning on the island, it is too soon to know how many animals have been affected.
“South Australian Veterinary Emergency Management (SAVEM) has been activated to manage the wildlife rescue effort and is working with other groups in fire-affected regions,” Mr Grear said.
“We ask that anyone on Kangaroo Island who finds injured wildlife call SAVEM on 0477 055 233 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“The work of wildlife rescue volunteers across the state is greatly appreciated, and SAVEM will coordinate assistance for animals affected by the fires on Kangaroo Island.”