A KOALA found at a Muswellbrook mine site is on the mend after being taken into care by the Port Stephens-based Hunter Koala Preservation Society.
Muswellbrook Mount Arthur, affectionately known as Artie, was rescued by Upper Hunter Valley group Wildlife Aid from the Mount Arthur Coal site on Saturday.
He was transported from Muswellbrook to Port Stephens where he is being nursed back to health by Simone Aurino from the preservation society.
“He [Artie] will be in care for two weeks,” Mrs Aurino, the society’s rescue and care coordinator, said.
“It’s a miracle turn around considering what we were expecting when we heard he was found in a mine pit.”
Julie Smith, a macropod coordinator for Wildlife Aid – Upper Hunter Valley, received a call late on Saturday afternoon from the Mount Arthur Coal mine office saying they had found a koala sitting in one of their coal pits.
“He’d been there for a couple of days,” Mrs Smith said.
“A man from the mine said he [Artie] was seen on Friday but they lost sight of him.
“He would have been so stressed with all those big trucks.”
Mrs Smith said it was not the first time the organisation had rescued a koala from a mine site, but added that it is not a common occurrence.
The koala had been picked up by the mine workers who found him and moved from the pit to an office by the time Mrs Smith arrived.
She found Artie, who had not been named by that stage, sitting comfortably in a box in an office.
Koalas are a specialist area within native animal care, and not one Wildlife Aid is currently able to provide.
Knowing the koala she had just rescued was in need of specialised care, Mrs Smith phoned Native Animal Trust Fund who contacted the preservation society.
“We have good relationships with groups outside of our area,” Mrs Aurino said.
“Everyone is so busy dealing with multiple species that we have offered to take care of koalas from outside our area, which gives them a much better chance at survival.”
Mrs Smith transported a lethargic and dehydrated Artie to Singleton for a NATF member to pick him up.
From there, Artie was driven to Raymond Terrace where Mrs Aurino collected him.
Aside from being “almost unresponsive” due to the dehydration, Artie went into Mrs Aurino’s care with a chlamydial eye infection.
He was placed on drip-fed fluids, and his eye treated.
The quick action made all the difference Mrs Aurino said, and in another week Artie will be able to go back home.
“He’s made incredible progress in just a few days,” she said.
Mrs Aurino places Artie at about 3 to 4 years old.
She theorised that Artie may have been chased into the mine site by an alpha koala protecting his breeding territory, and could not find his way out.
The society will work with Wildlife Aid – Upper Hunter Valley and the mine to figure out where to release Artie.
Under Office of Environment and Heritage legislation, koalas must be released within 10 kilometres of where they are found.
Mrs Aurino said it would be in no one’s best interest to release Artie back on the mine site, which is why all parties had to work together to find a suitable spot within the 10km radius.