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Why did Australia hide its mass koala murder?

Hundreds of starving koalas killed in Australia

Katie Jones
Digital Reporter

Thursday, March 5, 2015, 12:58 PM - The organized killing of hundreds of koalas has sparked controversy between state officials and animal activists in Australia.

Earlier this week, the environment minister for the state of Victoria confirmed that nearly 700 of the marsupials were euthanized in 2013 and 2014.

A boom in the koala population in the Cape Otway region, and a subsequent shortage of their main food supply, had led to their starvation in mass numbers according to authorities.

Officials say at least 686 koalas were found to be in poor health or near death before they were humanely killed by trained veterinarians.

Locals had complained that the entire area "smelled like death," and that many trees had been stripped bare before the state intervened.

Past unsuccessful attempts to move the animals ruled out the possibility of relocating them from the area.

While the state saw the mercy killings as necessary, animal activists took to social media to show that they wholeheartedly disagree.

"The Australian government should hang its head in shame, for allowing a secret cull of koalas," the Koala Foundation said in a statement on its website.

The population boom in the Cape Ottway area has been attributed to an abundance of manna gum trees and a lack of natural predators.

In other areas of the country, koalas remain threatened by habitat loss, disease, animal attacks and bushfires.

There are estimated to be less than 100,000 koalas living in the wild in Australia, where the culling of the furry creatures is illegal.

The species was driven to near extinction in the early 1900s due to widespread hunting for their pelts.

This is not the first time in recent years that the organized killing of a species has been cause for uproar in Australia.

In 2014, the culling of dozens of sharks in western Australia over a three-month period drew criticism from conservationists. The program was initiated by the state after an unusually high number of fatal shark attacks in the region -- seven deaths over three years.

Source: The Daily Mail

WATCH BELOW: Residents help thirsty koalas as wildfires rage in Australia

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