Whether your dog is at home, walking on-leash in public, or at one of eight off-leash areas, many encounters occur in Byron Shire between dogs and koalas, and other wildlife such wallabies, birds and reptiles.
Threatened koalas are seen in Byron Bay, Bangalow, Suffolk Park, Federal, Possum Creek, Ewingsdale, Mullumbimby Creek, Tyagarah, Brunswick Heads and Broken Head as well as other areas, where they frequent their favourite food trees Tallowwood, Swamp Mahogany, Grey Gum and Forest Red Gum.
As nocturnal animals, koalas are especially active around dawn to dusk, and in spring to summer when they often cross ground to find habitat, food or a mate. Although koalas may seem docile, they can be very agile with surprisingly strong, sharp claws and long front teeth. If feeling threatened or surprised, they can cause serious wounds requiring stitches.
Five key considerations - remember these to help keep your dog happy and healthy:
- Friendly or playful dogs can react to koalas unexpectedly.
Even if out of character, due to “Fight or Flight” instinct any dog can attack a koala if surprised by one in the yard and especially if it’s a first-time encounter.
- Your yard, land and trees may form part of a koala’s territory.
Koalas know their territory intimately and as excellent climbers, koalas will single-mindedly pursue a destination making them difficult to exclude with normal fencing.
- The smallest nip from your dog’s teeth can be fatal to a koala.
The bacteria in your dog’s mouth can cause extensive damage when exposed to a koala’s skin and can result in a slow and painful death. Frequently, the damage isn’t visible until it is too late.
- Call Friends of the Koala 24 hr Koala Rescue on 02 6622 1233 for help or advice.
Quick action is needed in the event of a dog-koala incident given that sometimes, despite prevention attempts an encounter, bite or worse can occur. Koalas might seem unharmed, dazed or even race off up a tree, but past cases show they are likely to need care. If an incident occurs - secure your dog inside and immediately call for help or advice.
- Allowing dogs to roam is an offence.
Roaming increases the risk of harm to your dog due to vehicles, wild dog/s, baiting and other traps for pest animals.
Strategies to manage dogs, koalas and wildlife at home:
- Bring your dog in with you at night, or enclose your veranda with a gate, or create a secure dog run.
- Ensure you have exercised dog owner responsibility
- Place koala escape poles, climbing routes and trees inside fences. Ask if your neighbours will do similar.