Science, dogs to the rescue of Redlands koalas

Redland City Council has backed a plan to vaccinate Redlands koalas against the deadly Chlamydia virus and to use specially-trained rescue dogs to track koala colonies.

Mayor Karen Williams today received unanimous support to protect koalas, including extending a Chlamydia vaccination trial to the City and using rescue dogs to detect koala scats.

“We have needed a more scientific and targeted approach to koala protection and this is an important first step in that direction,” Cr Williams said.

“I have met with Professor Peter Timms from the University of Sunshine Coast to discuss what role Council can play in working with him and his team to make use of the Chlamydia vaccine in protecting the koala.

“Prof Timms tells me trials of the vaccine are delivering very encouraging results, so it makes good sense to extend the trial to the Redlands.

“I have also spoken to Dr Romane Cristescu who is keen to use rescue dogs to track koalas and use their scats to further assist researchers.

“Council has spent millions of dollars over the years to protect koalas, with limited success.

“Scientists involved in the vaccine trial and further research are convinced we now have a real opportunity to make a difference, and Council is keen to support this new approach, using funds from the Environmental Reserve.

“Koala populations are declining across Australia, including in the Redlands. The major causes of death are Chlamydia, car strike, dog attack and habitat loss.

“There is no quick fix but vaccination and research provide new hope.

“The experts tell us Chlamydia is responsible for up to 50 per cent of koala deaths. If we can vaccinate and protect them we will go some way to arresting the decline in numbers. 

“These are only initial steps and much more needs to be done – by the Government, by the community and by Council.”

Cr Williams today presented a Mayoral Minute to the first General Meeting of 2015:

1. That Council resolves to contribute up to $30,000 from the environmental reserve to support a more scientific and targeted approach to koala protection within Redland City.

2. That Council support extension of a trial of a Chlamydia vaccine to koalas from the Redlands taken into care, treated and returned to the wild.

3. That Council seek to partner with the Queensland Government in a wider vaccination of defined koala populations within the Redlands.

4. That Council support scientific evaluation of research examining the use of scats for assessing Chlamydia infections in wild koalas in the Redlands.

“The next step is for Council to again meet with scientists so we can start this vital work as soon as possible,” Cr Williams said.

“We will need the support of Government and the community if we are to make a real difference.”