Mass deaths of Koalas in Australia leads to animal cruelty charges

A koala bear
Koalas are a protected species in Australia’s state of Victoria

Regulators in Australia have issued hundreds of animal cruelty charges over the deaths of dozens of koalas in the state of Victoria.

The animals were found dead at a partially cleared timber plantation at Cape Bridgewater last year.

More were later euthanised because of dehydration and injuries sustained during the incident.

A landowner and an earthmoving business are accused of harming and killing the animals by clearing the area.

They face 126 charges each. A second firm, a contractor, faces one charge of animal cruelty for disturbing the koala population.

They have yet to enter pleas. Victoria state’s Conservation Regulator did not name the accused.

Blue gum trees – an important koala habitat – were harvested from the plantation, leaving only a few isolated pockets.

Some koalas had starved to death in the remaining trees. Others were apparently killed by bulldozers.

According to Australian broadcaster ABC, 21 koalas were found dead at the site and 49 more were euthanized.

The Victorian Conservation Regulator estimates that 200 koalas were affected by the incident.

Koalas are a protected species in Victoria.

Local resident Helen Oakley came across the dead animals and posted a video of herself sobbing and relaying the news, prompting the investigation.

She told ABC that she was “ecstatic” that charges had finally been brought after so long.

“I still think about the koalas every day,” she said.

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