SYDNEY, May 11 (Xinhua) -- The relocation of a Victorian koala population began on Wednesday after the herbivores ate themselves out of food.
More than 400 koalas living on French Island in the middle of the Western Port Bay, 67 km southeast of Melbourne, will swap their ocean views for dense forest near Kinglake, 170 km away.
The marsupials will become the first koalas to call Kinglake home since the region was devastated by Australia's worst ever bushfires on Black Saturday in 2009.
Vegetation in the area has been declared ready to support a koala population for the first time since the bushfires, which killed 173 people, swept through Victoria.
One koala per hectare is considered the healthy ratio, with the animals consuming roughly 4 kilograms eucalyptus leaves every day.
French Island's koala population has grown to eight marsupials per hectare with Manna Gum and Swamp Gum trees, the preferred food tree of the marsupial, on the island being destroyed.
Viv Amenta, manager of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), said moving the koalas would be a "logistically challenging process."
The koalas are captured one-by-one by up to three staff members on French Island and are then given an anaesthetic and a health check.
Female koalas are given hormone implants to prevent them from producing more offspring.
Up to 30 koalas are then put into special boxes and loaded onto a barge which takes them to the Mornington Peninsula before being driven 110 km to their new homes.
"All of this happens in one day and the koalas are then kept overnight before transporting them to their new home," Amenta told News Limited on Thursday.
"Koalas have to be released within 36 hours."