Rescued koala released back into local bushland

It was a happy ending to a dramatic and rarely experienced journey.

On Sunday, the young, male koala rescued from a Wapengo oyster farm last week was released back into the wild.

Dubbed ‘Briny’, in recognition of his discovery in saltwater and after one of his rescuers, the koala spent time at Potoroo Palace animal sanctuary before its release.

Threatened Species Officer at the Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH), Chris Allen, said the koala had made a good recovery, and on Sunday “clambered up a tree on a property north of Tathra” upon its release.

The koala being released back into the wild on Sunday. Video: John Marsh

The koala being released back into the wild on Sunday. Video: John Marsh

“This is only the second time a koala has come into care in the region in the past 20 years as the population is so small and widely scattered,” Mr Allen said.

“He has recovered well from his ordeal last week where he was found clinging to an oyster bag in Wapengo Lake.

“When rescued he was found to be dehydrated but otherwise in a pretty good state of health considering his ordeal.

“That the local community could rally so quickly in so many ways to save the life of this animal is a testament to its commitment to support the recovery of these koalas,” Mr Allen said.

Picture: John Marsh

Picture: John Marsh

The koala had spent time at a Bega veterinary and Potoroo Palace animal sanctuary before being released.

An OEH spokesperson said the animal has been released onto a private property, managed under a voluntary conservation agreement.

“The successful rescue, recovery and release of this animal is very much thanks to the Wapengo Lake oyster farmers who pulled Briny from the water into their boat, wrapped him up until he stopped shivering and took him to the Bega Veterinary Hospital,” the spokesperson said.

“Vets and the carers at Potoroo Palace Wildlife Sanctuary were exceptional in the way they provided quick treatment and closely cared for Briny through his recovery.

Picture: John Marsh

Picture: John Marsh

“Thanks also goes to the locally based koala surveyor who enabled the selection of an appropriate release site in koala habitat close to the rescue site and near other koalas.”

In late September Tathra’s Michael Clarke captured a rare sighting of a koala not far from Wapengo Lake on the Tathra Bermagui Rd.

In the video, the koala can be seen walking along the side of the road, with Mr Clarke just metres away, before scampering up an embankment before climbing a small way up a nearby tree.

Under the state government’s Saving our Species program $55,000 has been allocated to Mr Allen and his team this year.