A “koala massacre” at a gum tree plantation in Victoria, Australia is estimated to have killed upwards of 40 animals after nearly 10 kilometers of trees were bulldozed around the property. According to The Guardian, trees in the blue gum plantation near Cape Bridgewater were “bulldozed into piles” killings dozens of animals and “devastating” the Victorian population.
“I saw at least 10 bodies in just one of those piles,” Andy Meddick, a Victorian state Animal Justice Party MP told the outlet. “A couple had literally been crushed to death when these trees have been uprooted. In one instance, a koala had her arm stuck between two branches and she had starved to death. Animals have been killed, injured and left to starve by whoever has done this.”
While investigators reported the deaths of 40 koalas, the state’s conservation regulator is continuing to dig through “about 10 kilometers of felled timber” to assess the complete situation.
“The conservation regulator’s major investigations team is leading the investigation into how this incident happened and who was responsible,” Kate Gavens, the state’s chief conservation regulator said. “Animals that were considered to not require immediate removal have been provided with food and water.”
An incident response site has been set up to treat koalas for starvation and broken bones. According to the outlet, more than 80 koalas have been assessed since the site was set up on Friday and about 30 have been euthanized.
“Every Victorian can rightly feel not only appalled, deeply saddened and heartbroken, but angry. I am absolutely angry,” Victorian environment minister, Lily D’Ambrosio, said Monday.
D’Ambrosio explained that the “abysmal” incident breached both the Wildlife Act and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act and those responsible for the act could face a penalty up to $8,000 plus $800 per “head of wildlife.”
Keith Troeth, who runs the property, told The Age he cleared the site last week “professionally” and in an “effort to minimize any fatality.”
“There may have been one or two koalas killed and I’ll wear the responsibility, but it’s not the big hoo-ha it’s been made out to be.”
The Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) will be launching its own investigation to determine the root of the “callous act of animal cruelty.”