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Stop koalas becoming industry casualties

Logging companies that export timber and woodchips for paper production overseas have been exposed for recklessly felling the homes of vulnerable wildlife. When footage of maimed and dead koalas was aired on television in 2013, one of the companies involved denied any animals were being killed — before ultimately being forced to make a public apology. Now, some 15 months on, new footage has emerged that has once again exposed the grave risk to koalas when the self-regulating logging industry is left to its own devices...

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Update February 2015: a recent report on Seven News reveals shocking footage of a mother koala and her baby clinging desperately to a tree trunk as the heavy machinery moves in and sends it crashing to the ground. 

Koalas have become the silent victims of international paper production. In July 2013, ABC's 7.30 exposed the maiming and killing of countless koalas on plantations in Victoria and South Australia.

With dwindling natural habitats, some koalas turned to Blue Gum plantations for refuge. But when logging began in these plantations, an animal welfare disaster unfolded.

With no apparent plan to relocate the local inhabitants, and without any government monitoring, trees were simply being cut down with animals still in them.

Volunteer wildlife carers struggled to keep up with the number of casualties — koalas suffering from broken limbs and backs, severed arms and impact wounds. Many more don't even survive the fall. Witnesses described injured koalas still on the felled trees as they were pulled through the shredders.

Following the flood of complaints after the 7:30 report, the Environmental Auditor for Australian Bluegum Plantations launched an investigation and subsequently released a damning report, citing “major non-conformances”, and removed their FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) license. Harvesting operations were also suspended in in large areas of koala habitat.

The Victorian Department for Environment & Primary Industries has since admitted that they rely on timber companies to self-report wildlife issues. And yet one of the major companies responsible continued to deny there was anything wrong until this cruelty was publicly exposed.

What's clear is that self-regulation is failing, and stronger protection for wildlife is needed. At a minimum, the detection, capture and relocation of koalas (and other at risk wildlife) needs to occur under government supervision before forest areas are logged.

Be a voice for koalas and other wildlife. Please call on the Victorian Ministers responsible to introduce stronger protection for wildlife, so that this never happens again.

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