Jumping on kangaroo verdict

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, July 1996:

CANBERRA––Australian environment
minister Robert Hill’s April 29 ruling
that koalas don’t qualify for endangered
species protection is under fire from both Sue
Arnold of Australians for Animals and
Deborah Tabart of the Australian Koala
Hill’s verdict was in keeping with
the Australian Endangered Species Scientific
Subcommittee finding that koalas “should not
be listed on Schedule 1 of the Endangered
Species Protection Act 1992. However,” the
ESSS stated, “while the koala is still relatively
abundant and widespread on a national
basis, and does not meet the criteria for
endangered or vulnerable at this time, it is
clearly declining in parts of its range, and
there is much scientific and public concern
about its conservation. Therefore the finalization
and implementation of a National
Koala Conservation Strategy is urgent.”

Both Arnold and Tabart called the
ruling “political,” challenging the data presented
to the ESSS by government scientists,
several of whom noted deficiencies in the
evidence AFA and AKF presented in filing
separate 1994 nominating petitions. Tabart
also accused the ESSS of failing to read the
scientific information that AKF provided.
Rivalry between AFA and AKF,
however, may have hurt their credibility.
The January and March 1995 editions of the
AFA newsletter, for instance, hit AKF on
multiple pages.
Despite denying koalas endangered
species protection, Hill and staff did move to
help them. On March 19, for instance, Hill
blocked a New South Wales proposal to
shoot up to 2,000 of the estimated 5,000
koalas reportedy overrunning Kangaroo
Island. Instead, Hill promised to relocate
surplus koalas to the mainland. Earlier, in
mid-September 1995, Hill halted plans for
construction of a tollway that would have further
fragmented the already broken koala
habitat near Melbourne.
Koalas were introduced to
Kangaroo Island about 70 years ago, when it
appeared they might be hunted to extinction
on the mainland.

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