The Conservation Regulator, with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), have responded to an incident on a private property near Cape Bridgewater.

Update 15 September 2020

Our Investigators and experts are making progress with this complex case and we urge anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers.

The Cape Bridgewater Koala investigation is ongoing. Complex cases such as this take time.  The Conservation Regulator is working through the evidence to determine what happened in this important case.

To date large amounts of evidence from the crime scene has been sifted through as well as mobile devices and witness testimonies.

Forensic radiography and pathology has taken place on animals located at the crime scene. Forensic pathology can tell when an animal died and what caused it.

As of September up to 68 koalas had been taken to be rehabilitated. Of these 42 have been released into the wild, 6 were euthanised and one died after being released the remainder are still in care across two wildlife shelters.

To understand the survivability, health and movements of the koalas following their release about 30 koalas were radio-collared, tracked and monitored for around three months at two locations.

The sites’ vegetation health and koala population densities were also assessed as part of the monitoring program.

A report on the translocated koalas’ movements is being completed.

The Conservation Regulator will release information on the outcomes of the translocated koalas once the report is complete.

Update - 12 May 2020

The major investigation into the deaths of koalas at Cape Bridgewater is continuing, with the focus now on evidence analysis.

The Conservation Regulator’s investigation has been underway since early February, when a significant number of injured, starving and deceased koalas were found on private land at Cape Bridgewater. 

To date, the operation has involved the work of 15 investigative officers with support from a range of forensic specialists and Victoria Police.

Investigators are continuing to analyse evidence that was seized from the crime scene, and evidence seized during six search warrants in Victoria’s south-west in February.

The Conservation Regulator is continuing to encourage anyone with information about the case to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Update - 27 February 2020

The Conservation Regulator has executed further search warrants as a major investigation continues into the deaths of koalas at Cape Bridgewater.

Search warrants took place on Tuesday and Wednesday this week in the Portland and Heywood areas.  

Victoria Police assisted with the operations.

Electronic and documentary evidence was seized, in addition to numerous other items including an allegedly unregistered firearm.

A total of six search warrants have now been executed in south west Victoria as part of this investigation.

The Conservation Regulator’s Major Investigations Unit has been investigating the koala deaths since Sunday 2 February, when a crime scene was established at a Cape Bridgewater property.

As the investigation develops, the Conservation Regulator is continuing to encourage anyone with information about the case to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Investigators have collected a number of witness statements and are continuing to seek out new witnesses, who could provide crucial information as part of the investigation.

The Conservation Regulator is appealing to members of the public who may have information about this case to contact Crime Stoppers, as even a small amount of information may lead to significant outcome.

Update - 13 February 2020

The wildlife assessment at Cape Bridgewater was completed on the weekend 9 February after a final search of the site and no further koalas were found.   

Since a crime scene was established at the site on Sunday 2 February, more than 180 koalas have been assessed with 113 released back into the wild. Sadly 30 koalas had to be euthanised.  

The total number of koala deaths is still being determined as part of a major investigation by the Conservation Regulator. 

A huge thank you to all the volunteers, carers and staff for all the work they have done at Cape Bridgewater. More than 40 koalas have been moved to rehabilitation facilities.  

Significant resources have been involved in the investigation, including the Police Airwing use of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (drone) to conduct mapping of the crime scene. 

A major crime scene remains in place as trained wildlife detection dogs survey the site and investigators undertake line searches. 

Background:

Stats from Sunday 2 February:

Koalas euthanised

30

Koalas translocated

113

Koalas rehabilitation

41

Total:

184

Update - 7 February 2020

DELWP’s emergency response to the incident at Cape Bridgewater has been scaled back.

A wildlife triage centre at the site closed down today, following a large number of koalas being captured and assessed.

Wildlife catchers and a vet will remain on standby, should any koalas be found in need of assistance over the weekend.

Since a crime scene was established at the site on Sunday, more than 150 koalas have been checked by a wildlife assessment team.

More than 100 koalas have been released back into the wild and more than 20 koalas have been moved to a care facility.

The total number of koala deaths is still being determined as part of a major investigation by the Conservation Regulator.

Significant resources have been involved in the investigation, including the Police Airwing use of a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (drone) to conduct mapping of the crime scene.

A major crime scene remains in place as trained wildlife detection dogs survey the site and investigators undertake line searches.

4 February 2020

The Conservation Regulator, with the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), are responding to an incident involving a significant number of injured and starving koalas on a private property near Cape Bridgewater.

A crime scene has been established at Cape Bridgewater and anyone with information about the koala incident is urged to contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.

Wildlife welfare assessment and triage will continue this week with qualified carers and vets on site.

Since Friday more than 80 koalas have been processed through the triage centre based on-site at Cape Bridgewater. 34 have been released back into the wild at the nearby Mount Richmond National Park.

Approximately 31 have been euthanised due to poor condition and the remaining are been rehabilitated with a local wildlife carer.

There are still an estimated 75 koalas left in the area and it is expected these will take another three days to capture and triage.

DELWP will continue to work with local wildlife carers and volunteers on the long-term requirements for the remaining koalas.

The Conservation Regulator’s Major Investigations team is leading the investigation into how this incident happened and who was responsible.

All wildlife in Victoria is protected under the Wildlife Act 1975. Killing or disturbing wildlife can attract a maximum penalty of up to $8000 and/or six months imprisonment.

An additional fine of more than $820 per head of wildlife may also apply. The investigation teams are also looking at a range of charges under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act.