Stress, when excessive, leads to chlamydia which kills koalas (see chlamydia). According to Dr Steve Phillips, ecologist and koala specialist, ‘We now have evidence that koalas respond adversely to loud noise.’ It is critical for the survival of Tweed coastal koalas to minimise stress as much as possible, especially human-caused stress, in and adjacent to koala habitat.
Since October 2012 over 300 illegal and/or inappropriate threatened species-impactive human activities have been evidenced at or adjacent to the sports field and access road and reported to council.
The Bottom Line
Having a sports field and access road in the middle of a koala/wildlife corridor creates an impediment to the safe and stress-free movement of koalas within the corridor.
To read in depth information about the various human-related stresses to koalas and other threatened species and their habitat at Black Rocks sports field, click on the links below:-
FIRE - major threat to koalas and all native animals
DOGS - major threat to koalas and bush stone-curlews
NOISE - major stress to koalas and ospreys
(model aeroplanes, helicopters, paramotoring, trail bikes, council brush cutting and mowing)
HOONS - stress for koalas and all native animals in the vicinity
(includes hoons, vandalism, shooting, spud cannons, fire lighting, wild teen parties)
GOLF - balls flying into habitat is a stressor for koalas
WEEDS/RUBBISH - threat to threatened species habitat
MEN’S SHED - potential multiple stressor if constructed
Increased traffic on access road
As a result of stress due to unregulated vehicular access which was re-introduced during the day after September 2014 when the koala protection gates were opened, there has been no evidence of on-ground daytime koala breeding activity in the vicinity of and on the access road. In the 2013/2014 koala breeding season there were several on-ground daytime sightings, including breeding, on and either side of the access road when the permanently locked boom gate was in place. This substantiates that increased human and vehicle activity has likely to have affected the life cycle of the resident and breeding koalas in the Black Rocks locality.
Additionally the presence of vehicles on the access road is a risk for vehicle strike since the access road is right in the middle of the main koala corridor where breeding has occurred (see Hoons ).
It has been observed that koalas in the habitat surrounding the Black Rocks sports field are not accustomed to and therefore become stressed by the presence of humans, moving around the tree to make themselves invisible, climbing up the tree to get away, or attempting to climb down the tree to abandon the site. This places koalas at risk of disease from stress and dog attack and/or vehicle strike if on the ground should they choose to re-locate, and also forces them to compete with other koalas that occupy the remaining primary koala food trees in the area (causing further stress).
Koalas that become accustomed to noise and disturbance (e.g. at airports and golf courses) have evolved over time to cope with these impacts. This naturally occurs when there are sufficient koala numbers. Those that cannot cope with the impacts die off and the more resilient koalas adapt and evolve. There are insufficient koala numbers at Black Rocks for this evolutionary process to occur.
The solution is clear - if the koalas are to survive at Black Rocks specifically and on the Tweed Coast generally we need to have a moratorium on all development and to revegetate the sports field and totally enclave the area to eliminate human activity in the area (click here for Dr Steve Phillips presentation at Pottsville Community Hall).