The Queensland Government will double funding to south east Queensland’s wildlife hospital network, as announced in its latest budget.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, and the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital will collectively receive an additional $3m over the next two years, in addition to the $1.5m per annum currently provided to the network.
Of this, the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, the Currumbin Wildlife Hospital, and the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital will each receive $1 million in 2022-23 and 2023-24.
The Honourable Meaghan Scanlon, Minister for the Environment and the Great Barrier Reef and Minister for Science and Youth Affairs, said Queenslanders have made it clear that they want continued action on the environment, and that’s what this budget does.
“The SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network does excellent work with our native animals, with vets, vet nurses and volunteers working round-the-clock to rescue and rehabilitate them so they can be returned to the wild wherever possible,” she said.
“Sadly, koalas, in particular, make up a big portion of the hospital admissions, suffering car strikes, disease, and dog attacks.”
Minister Scanlon said koala conservation and threatened species recovery were big winners in this year’s State Budget.
“The additional funding for the SEQ Wildlife Hospital Network is included in the almost $40m in this year’s State Budget that will go towards protecting Queensland’s native animals, including koalas.
“Of this, $24.647 million will support the Queensland Government’s South East Queensland Koala Strategy 2020-2025 and $14.7 million will support our broader Threatened Species Program.”
The South East Queensland Koala Conservation Strategy 2020-2025 includes the strongest koala protections Queensland has yet seen, increasing both the area and level of protection given to koalas in the south east corner of the state.
Scanlon said the $24.647 million would underpin critical actions to stop the decline in south east Queensland koala populations and protect and restore key koala habitats.
“In addition to investing in protecting and restoring koala habitats, it is vital we continue to support key wildlife infrastructure like the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, which plays such a critical role in preserving our koalas for generations to come.”
Wildlife Warriors Director, Dr Terri Irwin, welcomed the extra funding for the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital.
“The number of animals admitted to the hospital continues to rise year after year and more than 10,000 koalas have been treated at the hospital,” Dr Irwin said.
“The extra funds will help meet this rising demand across the whole wildlife hospital network but more still has to be done to reverse the decline in koala numbers in South East Queensland.
“We must implement better and innovative ways to expand the size and quality of koala habitat and cure the chronic diseases afflicting this iconic Australian species.
“Measures like the registration and roll out of the koala chlamydia vaccine and the re-populating of safe havens, which previously had koalas, must be our top priorities,” Dr Irwin said.
Minister Scanlon said Queensland was recognised internationally for its enormous global biodiversity, being home to thousands of species of national and global significance.
Unfortunately, there are 1026 species – 243 animals and 783 plants – now listed as threatened under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act.
“The Palaszczuk Government will target the $14.7m funding to support threatened species by addressing urgent on-ground recovery actions to see species saved in the wild.”
She said the Queensland Government’s Threatened Species Program would provide a coordinated and integrated framework for managing and conserving threatened species.
“To deliver this program, we will maintain effective partnerships and give ongoing support to the work performed by Indigenous Land and Sea Rangers, community groups, non-government organisations, land managers and the research community.
“There has never been a more urgent time for us to invest in protection and recovery of threatened species from threats like feral animals and pest plants and the impacts of climate change.”