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During this study, the public debate about the most appropriate way to manage an overabundant population of introduced but highly charismatic animals on Kangaroo Island (South Australia) was examined. In the 1920s, 18 koalas were introduced to the island in response to concerns about their survival on the mainland, subsequently increasing greatly in numbers. By the 1990s, large concentrated populations of Koalas had caused extensive tree deaths and resulting environmental damage, with associated economic and animal welfare issues.

This study aimed to discover why and how the management of this population of animals had become problematic. Using an Actor-Network approach, different understandings of the koalas on Kangaroo Island were analysed. Several distinct groups, with different views of the koalas and ideas of how the animals should be managed, were active in the discussion as to how the situation should be managed and why. There were few points of agreement between most of these groups, whose contributions to the discussion were to a large extent reflecting fundamentally different world views. One consequence of these differing world views was that the groups had profoundly different views of the koalas themselves.

Four different ways of viewing koalas were in evidence. Conservation-minded people and groups described the koalas as respected, wild animals with intrinsic value, but recognised that conservation included wider ecological assemblages than the koalas alone. Farmers described the koalas as no different from any other of the animals on their land, whether stock, feral or native; if causing problems then their numbers should be checked and, as in the case of other overabundant species, farmers should be permitted to do this. Activists described a more anthropomorphic koala that was cute, harmless and loveable and which was vulnerable to harm as a result of actions proposed by other groups and which therefore needed to be protected. Scientists tended to define the koala as introduced, inbred and overabundant, advocating significant reductions in numbers although there were alternative suggestions as to how this would be best achieved.

These accounts of different understandings of the koalas, the environment and of other people's motivations, demonstrate how a perverse outcome - no effective measures to address the problem - eventuated. The prevailing image of this iconic species as a unique Australian species under threat and deserving of conservation measures has extended its protection to the koalas on Kangaroo Island although the koalas on the island are neither rare nor vulnerable and are of equivocal conservation value.

Despite a great deal of attention from politicians, research and discussion amongst scientists, effort from farmers, and both unfocused activism and the efforts of an activist organisation dedicated solely to serving the interests of all koalas everywhere, the koalas on Kangaroo Island remain overabundant. Thus, besides the damage underway to the environment of the island, the koalas remain vulnerable to adverse welfare consequences not only via the effects of their own overpopulation (starvation etc) but also via possible informal attempts to limit their numbers by the deliberate introduction of disease or by shooting.

AKF (Australian Koala Foundation). Website address: https://www.savethekoala.com. Accessed 2005.
ANZECC (Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council). 1998 National Koala Conservation Strategy. Environment Australia, Canberra.
Ball, D. 2002. Chapter 6, Vegetation. Pp 54-65 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island, edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Ball, D. and Carruthers, S. 1998 Kangaroo Island Vegetation Mapping. Adelaide, Department for Transport, Urban Planning and the Arts.
Bowler, I. 1999. Recycling urban waste on farmland. An Actor-Network interpretation. Applied Geography 19: 29-43
Buckingham, S. 1999 Locating Koalas in the Australian Bush. Bolwarrah Press, Bolwarrah, Victoria.
Burgess, J., Clark, J. and Harrison, C. 2000. Knowledges in action: an Actor Network analysis of a wetland agri-environment scheme. Ecological Economics 35(1): 119-132.
Callon, J. 1986. Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. Pp 153-167 in Power, Action and Belief. A New Sociology of Knowledge, edited by J. Law. Routledge, London.
DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). 1997. Koala Rescue Update. Kensington SA.
Gibbs, G. R. 2002 Qualitative Data Analysis. Philadelphia, OU Press.
Herbert, C. 2007. From the urban fringe to the Abrolhos Islands: management challenges of burgeoning marsupial populations. Pp 129-141 in Pest or Guest: the zoology of overabundance. Edited by D. Lunney, P. Eby, P. Hutchings and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Inns, R. W. 2002. Chapter 8: Terrestrial Mammals. Pp 74-79 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island. Edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Lampert, R. J. 2002. Chapter 7: Aborigines. Pp 66-73 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island. Edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Latour, B. 1987 Science in Action: how to follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Latour, B. 1999. Chapter 2: On recalling ANT. Pp 15-25 in Actor Network Theory and after. Edited by Law, J. & Hassard, J. Sociological Review Monographs, Blackwell, Oxford.
Law, J. 1986 Power, Action and Belief. A New Sociology of Knowledge. Routledge, London
Lee, A. K., Handasyde, K. & Sanson, G. D. (eds). 1990 Biology of the Koala. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.
Lunney, D., Eby, P., Hutchings, P. and Burgin. S. 2007. Pest or Guest: the cultural context of the zoology of overabundance. Pp 258-269 in Pest or Guest. The zoology of overabundance, edited by D. Lunney, P. Eby, P. Hutchings and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
McManus, P. 2001 Sustaining unsustainability: sausages, actant networks and the Australian beef industry. In: Consuming Foods, Sustaining Environments. Edited by S. Lockie & P. Pritchard. Australian Academic Press, Bowen Hills, Qld.
Marsden, T., Murdoch, J. & Morgan, K. 1999. Sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and regional development: editorial introduction. International Planning Studies 4: 295-301.
Martin, R. 1997. Managing over-abundance in koala populations in south-eastern Australia - future options. Australian Biologist 10(1):57-63.
Martin, R. & Handasyde, K. 1999 The Koala. Natural History, Conservation and Management. Sydney, UNSW Press.
Masters, P., Duka, T., Berris, S. & Moss, G. 2004. Koalas on Kangaroo Island: from introduction to pest status in less than a century. Wildlife Research 31: 267-272.
Melzer A. & Lamb D. 1994. Low Density Populations of the Koala Phascolartos cinereus in Central Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 104: 89-93.
Morse, L. & Richards, J. M. 2002 Readme first for a user's guide to qualitative methods. London, Sage.
Murdoch, T. & Marsden, T. 1995. The spatialisation of politics: local and national actor-spaces in environmental conflict. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20: 368-380.
Parris, H. S. 1933 The first residents of the shires of Goulburn and Waranga. National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
Possingham, H., Barton, M., Boxall, M., Dunstan, J., Gibbs, J., Grieg, J., Inns, B., Munday, B., Paton, D., Vickery, F. & St John, B. 1996 Koala Management Task Force Final Report. University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.
Pratt, A. 1937 The Call of the Koala. Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne.
Robinson, A. C., Spark, R. & Halstead, C. 1989. The distribution and management of the Koala ( Phascolarctos cinereus) in South Australia. South Australian Naturalist 64(1): 4-23.
Sarewitz, D. 2004. How science makes environmental controversies worse. Environmental Science and Policy 7: 385-403.
St John, B. 1997. Risk assessment and koala management in South Australia. Australian Biologist 10: 47-56.
Strahan, R. (ed.). 1998 The mammals of Australia. Australian Museum, Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Seymour, A. M., Montgomery, M. E., Costello, B. H., Ihle, S., Johnsson, G., St John, B., Taggart, D. & Houlden, B. A. 2001. High effective inbreeding coefficients correlate with morphological abnormalities in populations of South Australian koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus). Animal Conservation 4: 211-219.
Van der Ploeg, J. & Frouws, J. 1999. On power and weakness, capacity and impotence: rigidity and flexibility in food chains. International Planning Studies 4: 333-347.
Wilks, S. L. 2007 Rubbish, bags and koalas. Case studies in environmental activism. PhD Thesis. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney.
Wilks, S. L. 2008. Chapter 10: How many Koalas are there on Kangaroo Island? Pp 203-226 in: Seeking Environmental Justice. Edited by S. L. Wilks. Rodopi, Amsterdam.
Walsh, M., Shackley, S. & Grove-White, R. 1996 Fields apart? A report for English Nature and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Lancaster, UK
Woods, M. 1998. Researching rural conflicts: hunting, local politics and Actor-Networks. Journal of Rural Studies 14: 321-340.
Wynne, B. 1996. May sheep safely graze? A reflexive view of the expert-lay divide. In: Risk, Environment and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology. Edited by S. Lash, B. Szerszynski and B. Wynne. Sage, London.
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References

AKF (Australian Koala Foundation). Website address: https://www.savethekoala.com. Accessed 2005.
ANZECC (Australian and New Zealand Environment and Conservation Council). 1998 National Koala Conservation Strategy. Environment Australia, Canberra.
Ball, D. 2002. Chapter 6, Vegetation. Pp 54-65 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island, edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Ball, D. and Carruthers, S. 1998 Kangaroo Island Vegetation Mapping. Adelaide, Department for Transport, Urban Planning and the Arts.
Bowler, I. 1999. Recycling urban waste on farmland. An Actor-Network interpretation. Applied Geography 19: 29-43
Buckingham, S. 1999 Locating Koalas in the Australian Bush. Bolwarrah Press, Bolwarrah, Victoria.
Burgess, J., Clark, J. and Harrison, C. 2000. Knowledges in action: an Actor Network analysis of a wetland agri-environment scheme. Ecological Economics 35(1): 119-132.
Callon, J. 1986. Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and fishermen of St Brieuc Bay. Pp 153-167 in Power, Action and Belief. A New Sociology of Knowledge, edited by J. Law. Routledge, London.
DENR (Department of Environment and Natural Resources). 1997. Koala Rescue Update. Kensington SA.
Gibbs, G. R. 2002 Qualitative Data Analysis. Philadelphia, OU Press.
Herbert, C. 2007. From the urban fringe to the Abrolhos Islands: management challenges of burgeoning marsupial populations. Pp 129-141 in Pest or Guest: the zoology of overabundance. Edited by D. Lunney, P. Eby, P. Hutchings and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of New South Wales, Mosman, NSW, Australia.
Inns, R. W. 2002. Chapter 8: Terrestrial Mammals. Pp 74-79 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island. Edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Lampert, R. J. 2002. Chapter 7: Aborigines. Pp 66-73 in Natural History of Kangaroo Island. Edited by M. Davies, C.R. Twidale, and M.J. Tyler. Richmond, South Australia, Royal Society of South Australia.
Latour, B. 1987 Science in Action: how to follow Scientists and Engineers through Society. Open University Press, Milton Keynes.
Latour, B. 1999. Chapter 2: On recalling ANT. Pp 15-25 in Actor Network Theory and after. Edited by Law, J. & Hassard, J. Sociological Review Monographs, Blackwell, Oxford.
Law, J. 1986 Power, Action and Belief. A New Sociology of Knowledge. Routledge, London
Lee, A. K., Handasyde, K. & Sanson, G. D. (eds). 1990 Biology of the Koala. Surrey Beatty & Sons, Chipping Norton, NSW.
Lunney, D., Eby, P., Hutchings, P. and Burgin. S. 2007. Pest or Guest: the cultural context of the zoology of overabundance. Pp 258-269 in Pest or Guest. The zoology of overabundance, edited by D. Lunney, P. Eby, P. Hutchings and S. Burgin. Royal Zoological Society of NSW, Mosman, NSW.
McManus, P. 2001 Sustaining unsustainability: sausages, actant networks and the Australian beef industry. In: Consuming Foods, Sustaining Environments. Edited by S. Lockie & P. Pritchard. Australian Academic Press, Bowen Hills, Qld.
Marsden, T., Murdoch, J. & Morgan, K. 1999. Sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and regional development: editorial introduction. International Planning Studies 4: 295-301.
Martin, R. 1997. Managing over-abundance in koala populations in south-eastern Australia - future options. Australian Biologist 10(1):57-63.
Martin, R. & Handasyde, K. 1999 The Koala. Natural History, Conservation and Management. Sydney, UNSW Press.
Masters, P., Duka, T., Berris, S. & Moss, G. 2004. Koalas on Kangaroo Island: from introduction to pest status in less than a century. Wildlife Research 31: 267-272.
Melzer A. & Lamb D. 1994. Low Density Populations of the Koala Phascolartos cinereus in Central Queensland. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Queensland 104: 89-93.
Morse, L. & Richards, J. M. 2002 Readme first for a user's guide to qualitative methods. London, Sage.
Murdoch, T. & Marsden, T. 1995. The spatialisation of politics: local and national actor-spaces in environmental conflict. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers 20: 368-380.
Parris, H. S. 1933 The first residents of the shires of Goulburn and Waranga. National Museum of Victoria, Melbourne
Possingham, H., Barton, M., Boxall, M., Dunstan, J., Gibbs, J., Grieg, J., Inns, B., Munday, B., Paton, D., Vickery, F. & St John, B. 1996 Koala Management Task Force Final Report. University of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA.
Pratt, A. 1937 The Call of the Koala. Robertson & Mullens, Melbourne.
Robinson, A. C., Spark, R. & Halstead, C. 1989. The distribution and management of the Koala ( Phascolarctos cinereus) in South Australia. South Australian Naturalist 64(1): 4-23.
Sarewitz, D. 2004. How science makes environmental controversies worse. Environmental Science and Policy 7: 385-403.
St John, B. 1997. Risk assessment and koala management in South Australia. Australian Biologist 10: 47-56.
Strahan, R. (ed.). 1998 The mammals of Australia. Australian Museum, Reed New Holland, Sydney.
Seymour, A. M., Montgomery, M. E., Costello, B. H., Ihle, S., Johnsson, G., St John, B., Taggart, D. & Houlden, B. A. 2001. High effective inbreeding coefficients correlate with morphological abnormalities in populations of South Australian koalas ( Phascolarctos cinereus). Animal Conservation 4: 211-219.
Van der Ploeg, J. & Frouws, J. 1999. On power and weakness, capacity and impotence: rigidity and flexibility in food chains. International Planning Studies 4: 333-347.
Wilks, S. L. 2007 Rubbish, bags and koalas. Case studies in environmental activism. PhD Thesis. Department of Biological Sciences, Macquarie University, Sydney.
Wilks, S. L. 2008. Chapter 10: How many Koalas are there on Kangaroo Island? Pp 203-226 in: Seeking Environmental Justice. Edited by S. L. Wilks. Rodopi, Amsterdam.
Walsh, M., Shackley, S. & Grove-White, R. 1996 Fields apart? A report for English Nature and the Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority. Centre for the Study of Environmental Change, Lancaster, UK
Woods, M. 1998. Researching rural conflicts: hunting, local politics and Actor-Networks. Journal of Rural Studies 14: 321-340.
Wynne, B. 1996. May sheep safely graze? A reflexive view of the expert-lay divide. In: Risk, Environment and Modernity: Towards a New Ecology. Edited by S. Lash, B. Szerszynski and B. Wynne. Sage, London.
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