Koalas in Care release young koalas into Hillville post Black Summer bushfires

A new view: Bushfire survivor Pollyanna surveys her new home in the wild. Photo: Koalas in Care
A new view: Bushfire survivor Pollyanna surveys her new home in the wild. Photo: Koalas in Care

Five young koalas left motherless during the Black Summer bushfires have been released into Hillville to begin a new generation.

Christeen McLeod of Taree based rescue organisation, Koalas in Care released the five females in August, with four more koalas waiting in the wings to be released soon, one of them a little boy.

The five koalas are aged an average of 16 to 18 months old - not ready to breed this season, but they will probably breed next season, Christeen said.

"These little guys don't have territory. They're coming up to a stage where they're dispersing so it's giving them that opportunity to go into that area and repopulate it with females.

"They're on private property and it's a nice, safe area and they can disperse in any direction. It's a really good area that's regenerating really, really well."

They are not the first to be released into the Hillville area after the fires - two adult females were released prior to the younger ones.

"We're trying to mix the age groups we've had going in there. Obviously they've come from the area, so they're going back into the area. Hopefully they'll have a chance to establish territory and settle in, and get on with being koalas," Christeen said.

Releasing the five youngsters was a momentous occasion for Christeen and all involved with Koalas in Care.

"It was a long time coming," Christeen said.

"That was eight or nine months since some of those ones came in. They came in at various times, most of them had been abandoned because they were very sick or weren't very strong, they were dehydrated. They were in poor condition."

Koalas in Care nursed them back to health before putting them into pre-release with two adult females that were rescued from the bushfires.

"It was really good they had the older females there to nurture them a bit and just to be there for companionship because they will cosy up to an adult female if she's happy to do that. They get a bit stressed when they lose mum, it's a pretty sad time for them," Christeen said.

In the meantime, Christeen and husband Paul checked the state of the habitat every month, and once they were seeing enough regeneration of the forest they made plans to release them.

"It was a really, really positive thing. Especially after what we'd seen during the fires, because when you see burnt koala after burnt koala coming in, and this one dies and that one dies ... it was a very big emotional thing, that fire," Christeen said.

"But taking those little guys out, yeah, there's no other reward but to see those little guys go off.

"That's the big reward at the end of such a horrendous incident, to have those little guys survive and have the security of starting their breeding life. Hopefully they'll go on and have many babies over time!"