Locals Asked To Control Pets In Koala Breeding Districts

October 8,1999 The Rural News

The NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) is calling for locals to assist koalas during their breeding season by ensuring domestic pets are kept under control in areas where koalas are found across the Riverina.

NPWS Griffith district ranger Fiona Miller said as the weather starts to warm up many of the male koalas will spend some time on the ground searching for mates and marking territory. "We are very fortunate in the Riverina to have areas where we can see koalas in the wild," Ms Miller said.

"Although they were originally released in the Narrandera Nature Reserve, They are now found around the Narrandera Common area and Murrumbidgee River as well.

The Narrandera Common is very popular for picnics and drives hut at this time of the year we can all assist the koala population by ensuring when dogs are being walked in the Common are that they are kept on a leash at all times.

"Sadly habitat loss and predation by dogs are two of the major reasons we have seen a decline in koala populations around the country".

"Generally the koala sleeps for about 19 hours a day but as the weather warms up they do take to the ground and are known to move several kilometres in search of food or mates but obviously when they are on the ground they are more susceptible to attack."

Ms Miller said the koala breeding season coincides with the warmer months of the year but they will begin to come more active over the next few months.

"Koalas actually communicate with each other by scenting trees and bellows, snarls and screams," she said.

"As the weather starts to warm up over the next two months the males will begin to bellow in the night more and they will start to fight and mark their territory around the base of trees.

"Mating generally occurs between November and January with the young born about 35 days later. Young koalas only weigh about 500 milligrams at birth and are less then two centimetres in length. The young cubs stay with their mother for about two years before they finally move away to establish their own home range," Ms Miller said.

"It's a great opportunity over the next few months when visiting Narrandera Common to have a glimpse into the lives of one of our most fascinating marsupials."