Koala-spotters wanted

Coffs Harbour region residents are invited to participate in the 6th annual Community Koala Survey program about to start in Bongil Bongil National Park, south of Coffs Harbour.

Rescued Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) nicknamed 'Briny' released after found at an oyster farm at Wapengo Lake - October 2017

Since 2013, this innovative and enjoyable National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) community program monitors koala numbers in the Park, according to NPWS Area Manager Glenn Storrie.

"Our goal is to understand how the koala population in the Park fluctuates over time. This is an exciting wildlife survey activity that participants look forward to every year," Mr Storrie said.

"Walking through the forest at night with a powerful spotlight while using audio call-back equipment is a fabulous way to spend a warm spring evening, and can reveal native animals not normally seen in the park during the day", he said.

"We will train community volunteers and equip them to help conduct night-time surveys, recording the presence of koalas and any other wildlife they might encounter.

"Last year the teams discovered a regionally significant population of the rare yellow-bellied glider while conducting these surveys, so koalas are not the only animals they come across.

"Teams walk the park's trails supervised by an experienced ranger, collecting valuable data on one of the most important koala populations in the State.

"The surveys are conducted just after sunset in the middle of the koala breeding season in late September to early October, a time when koalas are on the move and most vocal", Mr Storrie said.

Volunteers are required to take part in at least two 2-hour surveys, beginning just after dark.

Surveys are conducted every 4 nights, equating to a total of 5 nights work over 16 days.

Surveys this year begin at 6.00pm on Monday 24 September at a registration point on Pine Creek Way, near Repton.

An information and training session for prospective new volunteers will be held at 6.00pm, Wednesday 19 September at NPWS' Coffs Coast Area offices at:
Coffs Harbour Jetty
32 Marina Drive
Coffs Harbour.

Those interested in participating in the program or who want to know more about it should contact the project manager, Ranger Martin Smith at the NPWS Coffs Harbour office on: 02 6652 0907 or martin.smith@environment.nsw.gov.au