Herald Sun - - NEWS -

KOALAS are mat­ing their way to star­va­tion on an is­land off the Morn­ing­ton Penin­sula and it’s all be­cause of their STI sta­tus.

An abun­dance of chlamydia-free koalas on French Is­land could risk de­stroy­ing the na­tional park’s habi­tat and decimating the mar­su­pi­als’ main food source, the en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment said.

“Their over­abun­dance is due to sev­eral fac­tors, in­clud­ing their chlamydia-free sta­tus and an ab­sence of preda­tors on the is­land,” nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment pro­gram man­ager Vi­vian Amenta said.

An ideal ra­tio is to have one koala per hectare but in some parts of the is­land, there are up to eight per hectare.

“The koalas are in good health, but with­out in­ter­ven­tion their over­abun­dance will im­pact neg­a­tively on their wel­fare, ruin trees and de­stroy na­tive habi­tat,” Ms Amenta said.

To tackle the koala co­nun­drum, vets and en­vi­ron­ment depart­ment sup­port staff will catch 200 fe­males and ad­min­is­ter a con­tra­cep­tive im­plant.

“We are tak­ing this ac­tion to pre­vent a de­cline in wel­fare of French Is­land koalas,” Ms Amenta said.

De­spite the huge num­bers of the mar­su­pi­als, there are no plans to relocate them but the koalas will be mon­i­tored.

An over­abun­dance of koalas on French Is­land risks de­stroy­ing the na­tional park’s habi­tat.

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