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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MBRC Invests in Koalas

Moreton Bay Regional Council is helping to fund crucial university research aimed at protecting the health of koalas and reversing the decline of the local koala population. 

Mayor Allan Sutherland said council would contribute $30,000 over three years to support field trials of a koala Chlamydia vaccine by the Queensland University of Technology (QUT). 

“Chlamydia is a serious threat with 40 percent of all koalas presented to wildlife hospitals showing chronic symptoms of the disease which can lead to blindness, infertility and even death,” Mayor Sutherland said. 

“The research to date by QUT is promising and suggests if a successful vaccine can be developed it could play a big part in arresting the decline in koala numbers. 

“I’m keen to see field trials of a vaccine get underway as soon as practical and that’s why Moreton Bay Regional Council is getting right behind QUT’s research project. 

“This is proactive cutting edge research that builds on council’s commitment to protecting koalas. 

“Controls on habitat destruction are already in place and we’re also making progress on reducing the number of dog attacks, as well as koala road deaths in the region. 

“QUT’s Chlamydia field research is a project this council can’t afford not be involved in – it’s that important to the future of the Moreton Bay Region’s koala population, but time is of the essence.” 

Sustainability spokesperson and Division Six councillor, Rae Frawley, said Moreton Bay Regional Council’s financial support would also assist QUT in securing the necessary funding for this research from the Australian Research Council. 

“This is a partnership with community based koala conservation groups and QUT scientists that could become the circuit breaker for preserving and rebuilding koala populations for future generations,” Cr Frawley said. 

“Koalas admitted to care centres and wildlife hospitals will initially be the focus of the vaccine trial before it will be rolled out for use in wild koala populations if successful. 

“The vaccine could very well be a koala savior.” 

Other funding partners for QUT’s koala Chlamydia vaccine project include Gold Coast City Council, Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary and the Department of Environment and Resource Management.