Authorities are investigating the discovery of three dead koalas that had seemingly been dumped on the side of the road in an area with a dark past when it comes to the animals welfare.
The koalas were discovered on a roadside near Portland on Victoria’s south west coast with officers from Victoria’s Conservation Regulator (VCR) now looking into the incident.
Portland resident, Helen Oakley, found one of the dead koalas just south of the town on Tuesday last week as she was driving to the beach.
Then on the Thursday, Ms Oakley was informed of a walker discovering another two dead koalas next to the road, one laid out on top of a cardboard box with the other found decomposing inside a cardboard box.
Ms Oakley told the ABC after checking all three corpses she found no evidence of obvious injury.
“I thought (they’d been) poisoned, it just seemed weird,” she said.
“Obviously there’s been human intervention for one to be laid out on cardboard, (and the other) to be decomposed in a box, and the other one was in a driveway.
“I just hope they (VCR) find out what happened to these koalas.”
According to Ms Oakley the clearing of blue gum trees in the area could be leading to more interactions between humans and koalas, and she had noticed a significant drop off in the animals numbers in the area.
“I (previously) walked 21 kilometres from out at Cape Bridgewater into town and I saw 24 koalas,” Ms Oakley said.
“I’ve done the same walk (since) and I might’ve counted five.”
A spokesperson for the VCR confirmed they were looking into the incident.
“Authorised officers have recovered the bodies and are making enquiries,” they said.
“The Conservation Regulator takes all allegations of wildlife crime seriously.”
The area isn’t new to koala deaths, in 2020 around 70 koalas were killed and 200 displaced, after a large clearing of land that led to a property owner and two private companies being charged with 253 animal cruelty offences.
Then in 2021 the charred remains of a koala was found in a Portland park believed to have been burnt at the local aluminium smelter.
The company that owns the smelter, Alcoa, revealed it has euthanised 152 koalas suffering poor health in the land surrounding the smelter.
The company has since announced plans to help relocate koalas found in the area.
Anyone with information regarding the recent finding of dead koalas is urged to contact Crime Stoppers.