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Inquiry after piles of dead koalas found at plantation

Recovery: A koala is treated PICTURE: HELEN OAKLEY

DOZENS of koalas have been found dead or injured at a timber plantation in Australia, sparking an investigation.

Some had starved to death after their habitat was harvested, while others were apparently killed by bulldozers in Cape Bridgewater, south-western Victoria.

Resident Helen Oakley, who raised the alarm on Facebook, said: ‘There are koalas lying there dead. Mothers killed and their little babies. Australia should be ashamed of this. We need help.’

About 80 surviving koalas are being cared for but 25 had to be euthanised.

Friends of the Earth Australia said it had reports in December of hundreds of the animals starving. It added: ‘People apparently witnessed the bulldozing of many dead koalas into slash piles.’

Tens of thousands of koalas have died in the fires that have ravaged Australia.

The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning said it was prepared to prosecute over the Victoria deaths.

But Ross Hampton, of the Australian Forest Products Association, said the koalas were killed after legitimate contactors felling blue gum trees had left. ‘It is unclear as yet who bulldozed the trees with the koalas apparently still in them, but it is absolutely certain this was not a plantation or a forestry company.’