Furry friend loses bearings

The rescue atop the trees 210529_09.

By Brendan Rees

A mischievous koala has made a quick getaway from police which led to a five-hour rescue mission.

In the early hours of Saturday 27 June, a koala was caught on security cameras scooting along the footpath outside Cranbourne Police station.

By the time police went to check on the furry critter he had ran up a nearby tree, about 10 metres high on Sladen Street.

Police then called a wildlife rescuer from Berwick who thought the job initially sounded “pretty simple and easy”.

“By the time I got there he was in a big tree,” Sarah Cooke of Wish Wildlife Incident Safe Haven said.

Ms Cooke said she and her partner initially attached a net to a pole in an attempt to shuffle him down.

“We got him all the way down,” she said until he “dropped over to the next tree onto the fork”.

Unhappy, the marsupial jumped higher into a 25 metre tree – which was simply out of reach for the rescuers.

“From 2.30am to about 4.30am we were calling everyone we could possibly think of to try and get a cherry picker out,” Ms Cooke said.

“We couldn’t get any further with a ladder and I tried SES and CFA.”

Ms Cooke eventually contacted Peter Jackson, owner of Genie Scissor Lift Hire, who drove from Clayton to help.

“We finally got him unconnected from the tree which is really hard to do when you’re up 15 feet,” she said.

Mr Jackson controlled the lift from the ground while Ms Cooke and her partner safely placed the koala into a crate they had fitted to the side of the cherry-picker.

“They can grip like no tomorrow,” Ms Cooke said “My partner was holding onto him and I had to pull his front arms off the tree to actually get him to un-grip.

“He definitely wasn’t happy about moved from his comfortable spot.”

The rescue crew released the healthy koala back into familiar territory at the Cranbourne Botanic Gardens – without any charges by police for resisting arrest.

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