Hundreds of starving koalas legally killed in Australia

Hundreds of starving koalas legally killed in Australia

SYDNEY - Agence France-Presse
Hundreds of starving koalas legally killed in Australia

Around 700 starving koalas were euthanized in 2013 and 2014 to prevent greater suffering, say officials, who were blamed of mismanagement.

Close to 700 koalas have been killed off by authorities in southeastern Australia because overpopulation led to the animals starving, an official said on March 4, sparking claims of mismanagement.

Victoria state Environment Minister Lisa Neville said they were euthanized around Cape Otway in 2013 and 2014, with a caravan site owner saying the whole area “smelt like death” before they were put down.

“The intervention was necessary to prevent suffering of koalas because they weren’t able to find enough food,” Neville said in a statement. Neville said 686 koalas were found to be in poor health and were humanely killed by veterinarians in consultation with koala experts and animal welfare personnel.

The minister said she was seeking expert advice on how to manage the issue and wanted to be open with the community on the process, but has not ruled out further similar operations.

“Moving these koalas does not work and that can in fact cause even greater suffering,” she told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

The Australian Koala Foundation, which estimates there are now less than 100,000 of the unique animals in the wild, blamed long-term mismanagement for the deaths at Cape Otway. “What they have done is shocking,” said chief executive Deborah Tabart. “I think the government should hang its head in shame.”