Hitch-hiking koala helped across the road by police

IT'S not often you see furry highway hitch-hikers as cute as this.

Constable John Franklin from Mackay's Road Policing Unit was patrolling on the Peak Downs Hwy recently when he saw this koala on the side of the road obviously wanting to cross to the other side - but clearly spooked by the traffic.

"He stopped and placed his police car in a position to alert other motorists (lights on) and the koala seemed to know what came next. Quite a sprinter we are told," Senior Constable Steve Smith said.

"It's like he was doing sprint practice for a beep test," Const Franklin added.

The rural highway is a popular spot for the marsupials, with CQUniversity researchers last month beginning field work to help guide the design of koala-sensitive infrastructure along the Peak Downs Hwy from Eton to Nebo.

The research project, which aims to learn more about the behaviour of koalas in the Clarke-Connors Range, was commissioned by Transport and Main Roads.

Dr Alistair Melzer from CQUni's Koala Research Group said the Clarke-Connors Range was thought to support one of Queensland's most extensive connected koala populations.

"The range is considered likely to be an area of refuge from expected climate changes and expanding human footprint," Dr Melzer said.

"We are keen to understand the koala habitat use, diet and ranging behaviour.

"Our goal is to predict future hotspots for prevention of koala road kills and to inform planning for wildlife barriers and underpasses, as well as contribute to the conservation of this vulnerable species in Queensland."

The study will take up to two years, with most field surveys done during the koala breeding season (August to January).

And as for the furry little sprinting marsupial, Snr Const Smith says while it's not as spectacular as Usain Bolt's Olympic sprinting image, "it's not far off... the little fella can move!"

"Good deed for the day done (tick). Helped koala cross the road (lifetime tick)," he said.


Jamaica's Usain Bolt smiles after crossing the finish line to win the men's 4x100 meters relay final at the World Athletics Championships in Beijing on Aug. 29, 2015. Bolt captured a 3rd gold medal in Beijing following those for the 100 and 200 meters. (Kyodo)
Our Peak Downs Hwy koala sprinting across the highway nearly rivalled the style of Olympic star Usain Bolt.