KOALA deaths and rescues in the Hunter spiked over the past year, sparking a plea for drivers and residents to stay vigilant for the embattled marsupials.
Figures show the number of koalas killed on the roads rose 25 per cent on 2011 figures to 35 deaths.
Carers were also required to make 13 more rescues, taking the tally to 127 last year.
Hunter Koala Preservation Society president Sue Swain said last year had been tough for carers and the koalas, with a warm November forcing 25 rescues in 27 days.
Ms Swain said populations were encountering roads more as they became more mobile to find food and mates. But she said humans remained as the most important factor.
‘‘There would have been a few we probably could have saved if the people who hit them had actually called us,’’ she said.
Summer and the high traffic flowing through Port Stephens are also expected to make the next two months difficult.
Ms Swain said that combination traditionally forced koalas to migrate in search of food, as well as making dehydration and chlamydia greater risks for vulnerable animals.
‘‘They’re just everywhere at the moment and the sad thing is the ones that have been killed on the road have been young and healthy,’’ Ms Swain said.
‘‘We’re losing our breeding stock to cars.’’
2011 - 114
2012 - 127
DEATHS BY VEHICLE
2011 - 28
2012 - 35
Figures from the Hunter Koala Preservation Society