Local koala trees poisoned in selfish vandalism act
IN AN "unfathomable" act of vandalism, investigations are underway after the poisoning of two trees in a Goonellabah park, including a koala food source.
A Lismore City Council spokeswoman said the council is investigating the illegal poisoning of a mature Tallowwood koala food tree and a Bloodwood tree in a neighbourhood park in Fischer Street, Goonellabah.
Environmental strategies officer Wendy Neilan said the poisoning of these habitat trees was "heartbreaking".
"Koala scats that we found under the Tallowwood when we inspected the trees confirm that this is core habitat for local koalas," she said.
"Koalas are very particular about the eucalypt leaves they eat with only a few species providing a suitable food resource. Tallowwood is one of their preferred food trees."
She said the poisoned trees are estimated to be between 80 to 100 years old and provide a haven for wildlife.
Ms Neilan said koalas, tawny frogmouths and wallabies are regularly seen in this small patch of urban bushland.
"Koalas are vulnerable to extinction in NSW and we are very fortunate here in Lismore to be home to a significant koala population," she said.
Ms Neilan said local populations are "all the more precious given the devastating estimated losses of koalas in South East Australia due to recent bushfires".
"Mature habitat trees that are dotted throughout our urban landscape in parks and backyards are essential for koala survival," she said.
"By virtue of their size, these old trees provide more food and nesting resources than younger trees. These mature trees are vital to maintaining the biodiversity in our urban landscape.
"Many Australian native animals such as possums, gliders, antechinuses, wood ducks, rosellas, cockatoos, owls and microbats are reliant on tree hollows for a place to roost and raise their young."
The council's environmental health compliance officer Stuart Thomson said drill holes used to poison the trees were found at the base of the two trees last December.
"Besides their importance to our native animals, these trees created shade for a children's playground," he said.
"It is hard to fathom why anyone would do this. It is as an unlawful act of vandalism that destroys habitat and a community asset."
Damaging habitat of threatened species carries a hefty fine and can attract a jail term.
Anyone with information can call Lismore City Council anonymously on 1300 878 387 or the NSW Environment Line on 131 555.