23 August, 2023

Koala dispersal season is here

EVERY year, as koala populations approach breeding season, a widespread event known as koala dispersal occurs.

Koalas don’t follow usual behaviours during dispersal season and can be found in backyards, parks and other unusual places.
Koalas don’t follow usual behaviours during dispersal season and can be found in backyards, parks and other unusual places.

Koala dispersal happens when young koalas, usually aged around 18 months, leave the safety of their mothers to head out and establish their own territories as they approach adulthood, frequently travelling long distances to find the right location.

Around the same time, older breeding koalas are also on the move, moving from tree to tree in search of mates. 

During breeding season, male koalas become very aggressive and territorial, and spend more time on the ground where they become exposed to dangers like dog attacks and fast-moving cars.

Somerset Regional Council Mayor, Graeme Lehmann, said this is a dangerous time for koalas, and he urged residents to be koala-aware over coming months.

“The new generation of koala out finding their own territories don’t follow established behaviours during dispersal, and this can lead to them moving into spaces that are dangerous.

“They don’t limit themselves to the usual eucalyptus trees during the dispersal period, and will climb any tree during their travels, sometimes finding themselves climbing up backyard sheds and pergolas.

“While they’re moving through looking for their new home territories, they enter parks, backyards, bushland and often venture out onto roads and other public places. Roads and roadsides are especially dangerous, so keep an eye out for them, particularly when driving at night.”

There are a few simple things people can all do to help safeguard these koalas as they make their way in the world and Council offers these tips for residents and visitors during koala dispersal season:

Backyards can be dangerous for these young koalas. Dog owners can help by confining their pets at night.

Swimming pool owners can tie a sturdy heavy rope to a pole or tree and place the other end in the pool.  While koalas can swim, they are often unable to climb back out if they fall in.

Placing a pole against a backyard fence allows koalas to climb out and continue their explorations.

Be koala-alert when driving, keeping an eye on road verges for animal movement, especially at night. Koalas tend to travel mostly between dusk and dawn, although young dispersing koalas also travel through the day.

If you come across a young koala travelling through, leave it alone. Any interference with a koala’s movement in this time can confuse the animal and lead to unexpected dangers.

Phone the RSPCA on 1300 ANMAL (1300 264 625) if you come across an injured koala. If safe to do so, move yourself and the animal to safety to wait for the wildlife carer to arrive.


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