Dogs and koalas

Koalas are one of the most recognised animals in Australia, however, they are under threat of extinction. Queensland was once home to millions of koalas. The present koala population is a fraction of that size.

Koalas are listed as vulnerable in Queensland under the:

  • Australian Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
  • South East Queensland bioregion under the Queensland Nature Conservation Act 1992.

As a dog owner, there are things you can do to reduce the chances of your pet attacking a koala.

Animal local law

Brisbane City Council’s Animals Local Law 2017 ensures owners keep animals in a manner that prevents injury to people and other animals. 

It's important to take appropriate action to prevent your dog from attacking wildlife. Under the law, the keeper of a roaming dog that attacks wildlife may receive a fine if appropriate action wasn't taken.

How dogs pose a threat to koalas

Dogs (wild and domestic) are the third most significant threat to koalas, after habitat clearing and road trauma.

Koalas are in danger of attack when they enter residential properties and nearby bushland in search of food trees and breeding partners.

A dog instinctively reacts to a koala entering its territory as a threat and in most cases will attack it. Some dogs may treat it as a play object. However, the dog's sharp teeth and claws can still seriously injure the koala. 

How to find out if there are koalas on or near your property

Although koalas live in trees, they descend to the ground to move from tree to tree.

You can do the following to see if there are koalas at your property:

  • look for koalas in the forks of trees
  • check for scratch marks on tree trunks
  • examine the ground for koala droppings (hard, firmly packed cylindrical droppings containing coarse fragments of leaf and a strong eucalyptus smell)
  • listen for distinctive bellows, grunts and low-pitched snarls (during breeding season from July to December)
  • check for a strong musky scent produced by adult males (during breeding season from July to December).

What you can do to prevent an attack

As a dog owner, you can do the following to reduce the chances of your dog attacking a koala:

  • check gum trees on or near your property regularly before allowing your dog to roam
  • install an animal-proof boundary fence at your property to secure your dog
  • install an animal-proof fence to prevent koalas climbing/entering your dogs designated territory
  • notify your neighbours of koala sightings in your area
  • walk your dog on a leash, unless in a designated off-leash area.

Getting help for injured koalas

There are a number of organisations and facilities in Brisbane with experience in the care and rehabilitation of injured wildlife. 

Contact the native animal ambulance on 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) if:

  • you have found an injured koala, or
  • your dog is responsible for the accidental injury of a koala or other native species.
Last updated:3 May 2019