Hitch a long way from home
Koala stops traffic on major hwy as land clearing increases stress levels
KOALAS trapped in the middle of highways, snakes in suburban backyards and kangaroos dead on the side of the road – they’re wildlife where they shouldn’t be.
Mass clearing for housing and commercial development around Ipswich is destroying natural wildlife habitats and pushing animals into danger.
Last week, Ipswich snake catcher Brandon Wilkinson was called to rescue displaced snakes nine times in two days; on the weekend big-hearted truckies stopped traffic to escort Hitch the koala from the Cunningham Hwy at Amberley; and every day Ripley resident Paul Hurley passes a dead kangaroo down the street.
Authorities say mass land clearing and development, or at least humans, are to blame.
Mr Wilkinson said new housing development was responsible for destroying snake habitat and pushing them into other residential suburbs.
“All the new estates, with grassland and trees being cut down, a lot of habitat is being destroyed and snakes are the same as birds and koalas, they are getting disturbed so they have to move away,” he said.
“Snakes will move into areas where houses have already been built and that is quite a concern because a lot of those areas they aren’t used to seeing snakes in.”
Mr Hurley said he often watched a mob of 20 kangaroos from his kitchen sink, animals that have now been replaced with piles of dirt and empty space.
“Before they cleared the land there was a lot of kangaroos, we used to see them all the time. Now there is no grass, not a tree left on the site,” Mr Hurley said of the development next to his house.
“There used to be a mob of 20 kangaroos that lived there, I could see them from the window and the kitchen sink when we were preparing dinner.
“That wildlife has been displaced and while we haven’t noticed any incidents of snakes or wildlife in our yard, it’s obvious they are gone.
“I am dismayed that the clearing was done totally, there wasn’t a space left there or in the paddock across the road. There is now a huge swathe of land without a tree or a piece of grass.”
Mr Hurley said there was plenty of work being done in other suburbs to maintain wildlife corridors, a focus that did not extend to Ripley.
“I know that development has got to happen but I feel that we really missed out with an opportunity. With our modern thinking and our modern knowledge, we know about things like wildlife corridors and refuges and we continue to clear around the area,” he said.
“The development has got to happen but there should have been a series of connected pathways for wildlife with some bush left there.”
Ipswich Koala Protection Society president Ruth Lewis was caring for Hitch the koala after he was hit by a car on the highway.
She said a combination of the impact of human activity in land clearing, a dry winter and breeding season were bringing koalas to the ground.
“As there are a lot more coming to the ground, they are placed under a lot of stress and they are not getting enough nutrients from the leaves as they are dry,” Ms Lewis said.
“The community needs to keep in mind koalas are out looking for a beer and a good time and Ipswich is home to a large population of koalas and we need to make sure there is a future for them.”
BELIEVE IT OR NOT: Ripley resident Paul Hurley is disappointed the development next to his property will have no trees, nature corridors, or parks.
Hitch the koala was out looking for a date last Saturday when he was hit on the Cunningham Hwy.