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Senator the Hon Robert Hill
Leader of the Government in the Senate
Minister for the Environment and Heritage
Federal Environment Minister Robert Hill says a decision by the United States Government to list the koala as threatened under the US Endangered Species Act is inappropriate and unnecessary.
Senator Hill says the decision by the US Fish and Wildlife Service ignores available scientific data on the abundance of koalas in Australia.
"The US listing follows a petition from environmental lobby group Australians for Animals and their US based affiliate Fund for Animals, however it does not take into account the conservation and wildlife management strategies in place in Australia," Senator Hill said.
"All Australian States and Territories where koalas occur have legislation protecting the species.
"In addition, the Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council (ANZECC) is implementing the National Koala Conservation Strategy.
"The Strategy reflects the State and Territory management plans together with actions relevant to the conservation of koalas both within Australia and overseas.
"Considerable scientific research on koala ecology and population size is being undertaken, along with an education program to inform the general public of koala conservation issues.
"The US listing misrepresents the status of koalas in Australia and is superfluous to wildlife management activities.
"The listing under the US Endangered Species Act will have no practical effect as it imposes trade regulation on imports of the species only.
"As koalas are only subject to limited zoological trade, the only practical implication will be a requirement for import permits by US zoos wishing to acquire koalas.
"This decision follows the US Government's previous listing of the Red Kangaroo, Eastern Grey Kangaroo and Western Grey under the Act, despite the fact that these species are among the most abundant mammals in Australia. Following numerous submissions from Australia, these species were removed from the Act in 1995.
"The US decision will not contribute to the conservation of the species in Australia," Senator Hill said.
Rod Bruem (02) 6277 7640 or 0419 258 364
Anne Marie Delahunt (02) 6274 2240 or 0412 446 136