by Mia Armitage
A Queensland council has proposed stricter laws for dog owners in an effort to protect koala populations.
Redland City Council introduced “koala safe areas” in 2007 but hopes to expand those areas in 2016.
“Owners of properties greater than 2000m2 in these koala areas must ensure their dogs are denned or restrained at night or kept in a proper enclosure at all times if the amendment is adopted” said the council’s website in mid-February.
Brisbane City Council states on its website that “statistics from the [west Brisbane] Moggill Koala Hospital show that 80 percent of koalas attacked by dogs die from their injuries” however dog owners in Brisbane were not required to restrain their dogs at night.
Other councils across southeast Queensland including Ipswich, Gold Coast, Logan, Sunshine Coast and Moreton Bay suggested dog owners keep dogs restrained at night but had not introduced laws on the matter.
Redland City Council mayor Karen Williams said the only negative feedback she had received on current laws was from owners of “guard dogs” who did not want to tie their dogs up at night or bring them inside.
She said koalas often needed to pass through residential backyards at night where they faced risks of dog attack.
The five proposed “koala safe area” expansions included parts of Capalaba, Birkdale, Thorneside and Thornlands as well as all three towns on northern Stradbroke Island (Point Lookout, Amity Point and Dunwich).
The proposal was open for feedback until March 15.
“Koala safe areas” were part of a broader Redland council plan to protect koalas that included environmental off-sets to counter habitat destruction during development; funding for a new chlamydia vaccine and identification of koala habitats through a sniffer dog named Maya trained to locate koala scats.
Southeast Queensland is home to the “koala coast” southeast of Brisbane, where a Queensland government survey found a 68 per cent decline in koala populations between 1999 and 2010.