Koala-ty, Not Quantity
The U.S. irritated Australia this week by listing the koala bear as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Although wild koalas are found only in Australia, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service hopes the listing will raise awareness of their plight as well as prohibit trade in koalas by anyone subject to U.S. laws. Australian Environment Minister Robert Hill criticized the listing as “inappropriate and unnecessary,” saying koalas are abundant and adequately protected in Australia. The nation’s koala population is estimated at between 40,000 and 400,000, but nearly two-thirds of the eucalyptus forest and woodland ecosystems on which the koalas depend have been lost and the rest are under pressure from logging, farming, and urbanization, says the USFWS.