It is high time for music festivals to take responsibility for their natural surroundings.

Humans have a tendency to disrupt nature wherever they go and most often for the worse. According to reports from Dr. Stephen Phillips from Biolink Ecological Consultants, of 20 surveyed koalas initially found close to the site of the northern NSW festival in 2010, none were alive today. He said the noise from the festival, which stressed the animals and forced them to move, was the main cause of the deaths. Phillips has published a paper in the journal Australian Mammalogy, where he claims that koalas disturbed by the noise of the festival, have uncharacteristically moved outside their home area.

“Koalas don’t tend to move large distances because their diet of eucalyptus contains very little energy. The stress from the noise and being forced to move can make them more susceptible to disease,” he said, in an interview with Guardian Australia. “In addition, moving out of their home area along the ground can make them prone to attacks by wild dogs as well as aggressive interactions with other koalas.

On the other hand, according to University of Queensland wildlife researcher, Dr. Sean FitzGibbon, though there had been a high rate of mortality among the koalas, it was mostly due to disease and that could not be attributed to stress. He said he believed the next most serious cause of death was wild dogs. There was no direct evidence of dogs attacking koalas but dogs have been seen in the area and more than a dozen have been killed by the festival.

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Peter Noble, director of Byron Bay Bluesfest, told Guardian Australia: “Our wild dog eradication program over the past few years has produced zero attributable deaths we believe as a result of dog attacks.” He also mentioned that they were the only music festival in the country with a koala management plan approved by the NSW Department of Planning and Environment. As part of that plan, the festival was improving the koala habitat by planting trees and treating sick koalas with antibiotics.

The Byron Bay Bluesfest has been around for a quarter of a decade and is an extremely well-renowned music festival, responsible for launching the careers and promoting several blues and roots musicians while also showcasing some of the best in the genre from around the world. The 120 hectares at Tyagarah Tea Tree Farm, just north of Byron Bay, NSW (which also happens to be the home of the Koalas) is the permanent home of Bluesfest. The festival presents over 200 performances with up to 7 stages over 5, 12 hour days, as well as camping for up to 6,000 people, 5 licensed bars, over 100 food and market stalls, undercover food courts, beer gardens, and children’s entertainment.

The Byron Bay Bluesfest is responsible for several green and koala preservation initiatives but maybe it is just not enough as they should consider moving the festival venue away from this natural habitat.