Disturbing new details come to light after 152 of the animals died in the massacre of koalas – amid fears of a ‘cover-up’
- Alcoa, an aluminum smelter, killed 152 koalas
- Disease was first identified at the site in 2010
- The koalas suffered from fluoride exposure
- Victorian MP says government is covering up details
A Victorian politician has claimed the government is trying to “cover up” details of a koala massacre.
A total of 152 koalas were killed after contracting disease at a nearby US aluminum smelter.
The disease was first identified in Alcoa in Portland in regional southwest Victoria in 2010.
The company recently admitted to killing the marsupials after learning that the creatures were deteriorating from exposure to fluoride – a waste product of smelting.
A total of 152 koalas were killed after deteriorating from exposure to fluoride – a waste product from the melting down of a nearby US aluminum smelter (stock image)
Animal Justice Party MP Georgie Purcell (pictured) has claimed the government is trying to ‘cover up’ details about koalas killed after falling ill
That is what Member of Parliament Georgie Purcell of the Animal Justice Party said Yahoo News the government’s handling of the infestation was “shameful” and stated that they were “abandoning responsibility” for the protection of native wildlife.
“Killing more than 150 koalas cannot be considered proper management, as they say. The Victorian public just won’t accept it,’ said Ms Purcell
“That’s why they’re so desperate to cover up what’s going on… and why it’s been so hard to get answers or results on the koalas.
“Honestly, it’s unacceptable and quite embarrassing. Not only do we have a minister in Victoria who is directly responsible for the welfare of our native animals, but we also have an entire government department that outsources (koala management) to an American company.’
That was announced in May the Alcoa assessed 348 koalas and gave fertility control on 79 females since the start of the koala health assessment.
The industry giant found that the large group of marsupials living in the 17 acres closest to the smelter were suffering from the effects of fluorosis.
The disease can lead to malnutrition and skeletal and dental abnormalities.
The 152 worst-affected koalas — about 60 percent of the assessed koalas — were euthanized and the forest was closed to the public in March.
US-owned Alcoa has admitted to euthanizing 152 koalas near its Portland smelter (stock image)
In response to the tragic loss of life, Alcoa has implemented a Koala Management Plan.
Part of the plan to restore koala welfare to the area includes planting 16,000 eucalyptus trees on 14 acres further from the smelter.
Alcoa hopes that by gradually removing the 17 worst-affected acres as the plantation grows, it will encourage the koalas to move to the new forest.
“We remain committed to the continued protection and management of the local koala population,” a spokesman said in a statement.
However, wildlife activists say the situation in Portland is just one example of a larger koala crisis in Victoria.
Koalas are listed as endangered in NSW, QLD and the ACT, but the Victorian government claims the koala population is ‘safe’.
Some parts of the state have even declared an overpopulation of koalas, including the Southwest where Portland is located.
Alcoa has since created a Koala Management Plan to plant 16,000 eucalyptus trees near the smelter (pictured)
In 2022, the government euthanized nearly a third of the 125 koalas near the dormant Budj Bim volcano, about 43 miles (70 km) from Portland.
Koala Alliance Victoria is just one of several agencies claiming that Victoria is overestimating the stability of the koala population and calling for the national icons to be treated with more respect.
“If we don’t act, koalas in Victoria will disappear without even being listed as endangered species,” spokesperson Jessica Roberson told Yahoo.
“That would be a terrible tragedy and we will not rest until something is done to reverse it.”