Dogs are a man’s best friend, but there are lots of things you can do to ensure that your pal doesn’t harm native wildlife like Koalas.
Follow these simple tips and you, your pets, and local Koalas will live happily together.
If you are a dog owner who is lucky enough to live in an area where Koalas live too, there is a lot you can do to help your Koala buddies out.
Attacks by dogs are one of the biggest threats Australia’s iconic Koalas face. But with a few simple tips, you can prevent your dog from causing harm to Koalas.
Koalas have sharp claws and teeth and will fight back if threatened. These tips will also help you ensure that your dog is safe from serious injuries from a very frightened Koala.
Many dogs are curious by nature. Even if they generally don’t chase wildlife, their investigation of a Koala in their backyard may cause injuries to both Koala and dog. Even a quick bite is enough to kill a Koala as they have thin skin. So it is best to take precautions.
Most dog attacks on Koalas:
- take place in the dog’s own backyard
- happen at night when Koalas are more active
- are by dogs that weigh over 10 kg
- happen between July and September (though attacks can happen at any time of year). This is when adult Koalas are out and about looking for mates, and when young Koalas are leaving their mothers and looking for their own territories
- are fatal, which makes dog attacks the third most common cause of death after diseases related to habitat loss, and vehicle strikes
Did you know?
- The likelihood of a Koala attack increases if there are two or more dogs on the property.
- Dogs will attack healthy Koalas as well as sick ones.
Keep your dogs and Koalas safe
- keep your dog inside at night or inside an enclosed deck or veranda
- install an enclosure or kennel to which your dog can be tethered, so that your dog’s movements are limited if you need to keep your dog outside at night
- ensure your dog’s kennel is far enough away from potential Koala food trees and direct routes between trees
- keep your dog on a short lead if you want to keep them outside at night, and give them a bone so they don’t get bored
- install Koala exclusion fencing if you don’t want to confine your dog, and keep trees and shrubs at least three metres away from the exclusion fencing – if this cost is not practical for you, a small dog enclosure or a fenced-off dog play area may be more suitable
- train your dog not to chase other animals through obedience training techniques at a dog training school
- exercise your dog regularly so that it has less energy available to chase wildlife
- check for Koalas in trees around your property and ask neighbours if they have seen any Koalas in the area recently
- check with your local council to find out what you as a dog owner are required to do to protect Koalas
- choose a small dog that does not grow to an adult weight of more than 10 kg
- remove your dog if it is worrying a Koala in a tree, so that the Koala can come down and move to another area safely
- report a dog worrying a Koala to a local wildlife rescue group
- keep the number of a local wildlife carer on hand or saved in your phone to call if your dog injures a Koala
- assuming that your dog will not attack Koalas, as your dog can behave differently when you are not around
- touching a Koala if it has been injured by your dog –place an upturned box over the Koala and place a weight on top of the box. Call a wildlife carer immediately so the Koala can be rehabilitated.
- receiving a fine or having your dog impounded for attacking a Koala by doing what you can to protect Koalas and your dog.
- assuming a Koala would not come into your backyard. Even if you have a fence and no trees, Koalas can climb most fences and may try to cross your backyard to reach nearby Eucalyptus trees
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