SLOW DOWN: Heartbreaking koala photo prompts plea
A HEARTBREAKING image of a deceased koala on the side of Hogbin Dr has prompted pleas for motorists to slow down as the breeding season begins.
The photo was posted online by the Great Koala National Park (GKNP) team, who have been lobbying for the creation of a 315,000ha koala reserve in the Coffs Harbour hinterland for several years.
Many were left devastated by the image.
"Some people are extremely stupid and careless! Poor baby," wrote Dorian Van Deen.
"Another one lost needlessly. What chance do they stand? So much stacked against them."
Coffs Harbour City Council has confirmed the a spike in road fatalities involving the threatened species as they've become active in search of a mate, with the breeding season running from around August-February.
Council is urging motorists to slow down when travelling through bushland areas particularly in the morning and late afternoon, and to report any koala sightings to the council's Koala register.
Over the last two years, more than 80 sightings of koalas in suburban areas of Coffs Harbour have been added to the register.
Calls for the establishment of the GKNP have recently been reignited with Energy and Environment Minister Matt Kean announcing his ambitious aim to double the state's koala population by 2050.
This comes following last month's Upper parliamentary report that found the species will likely become extinct in NSW by 2050 without urgent intervention.
One recommendation among 42 was to investigate the creation of the GKNP.
Chris Gambian, Nature Conservation Council Chief Executive, welcomed Minister Kean's pledge and said the GKNP proposal would protect more than 55,000ha of prime koala habitat that is currently at risk of being logged.
"There were once hundreds of thousands of koalas in NSW - possibly millions - but now there are possibly as few as 15,000," he said.
"The population has declined by between 20 and 50 per cent since 1990, and 5000 are thought to have died in the summer bushfires in just one region - the mid-north coast. Many others perished elsewhere."