Wildlife carer Kathy Silk with kangaroo joeys.
Wildlife carer Kathy Silk with kangaroo joeys.

How a simple green pole could save lives on rural roads

WILDLIFE carers are calling on local councils to adopt a new technology program to reduce the number of wildlife and motorists collisions.

As the plight of our native wildlife continues to find international focus in the wake of recent fires, many people are looking for new ways to look after animals.

Hundreds of thousands of native animals die on roads every year, a grim statistic which could be greatly reduced through the use of new technologies.

One of these technologies is the Wildlife Safety Solutions 'virtual fence', which has had proven results in reducing roadkill numbers at numerous sites in Tasmania, two locations on the Sunshine Coast, and several other sites elsewhere on the mainland.

The Sunshine Coast Council adopted the new technology in a bid to reduce animal deaths on the road.

"In response to public concern about vehicle collisions with fauna, and after consultation with local wildlife and sustainability groups, in August 2018 council began working with University of the Sunshine Coast researchers on the installation of fence posts at Sippy Downs Drive," A Sunshine Coast Council spokesman said.

"In December 2019, the trial technology was rolled out along Nojoor Road in Mudjimba.

In total, council has covered over 3.5km along busy roads and 180 of the fence posts have been used over those two sites."

The posts work by producing light and sound when they detect approaching headlights, which discourages animals from approaching the side of the road.

In Tasmania, the posts were first trialled in 2014, and are currently deployed in nine different locations, successfully reducing the roadkill rate in those areas by an average of 50%.

 

One of the virtual fence devices. Picture: Courtesy of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.
One of the virtual fence devices. Picture: Courtesy of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

 

Local wildlife carer Kathy Silk said the use of the 'virtual fence' and other similar technologies would spare animals from collisions with vehicles.

"I would love to trial the noise emitting ones they are trialling on the Sunshine Coast here," she said.

"Another one I'd love them to trial is the blue reflectors. They've had great success in UK with a 90 per cent decrease in deaths."

She also suggested creating safe points for animals to safely bypass roads.

"Wire bridges over the road, or tunnels under them also work," she said.

"I saw a redneck wallaby using a 30cm pipe under someone's driveway once."

Unfortunately, implementing these kinds of methods could prove to be a complicated and costly task.

Somerset Regional Council indicated it would be costly task due to the diverse nature of roads in the region - some dirt, some bitumen, some state-owner, others council-controlled.

Lockyer Valley Regional Council's Roads and Transport portfolio Councillor Janice Holstein said decisions would take advisement for the best methods to employ for animals safety.

"Council is aware of the trial of this product and will be guided by the Department of Transport and Main Roads on what are the most appropriate technologies to use," she said.

"We all love our wildlife and council encourages road users to drive to conditions with consideration of the increased presence of wildlife."

With or without virtual fences to help them, Mrs Silk asked drivers to be careful, and keep an eye out for animals on the road.

If you hit or find an injured animal please call a carer to come and get it," she said.

"If you are unable to stay please give an exact a location as you can and leave a marker."

Dragging away dead animals from the road or roadside is also important, as corpses will attract scavengers which are in turn at risk of being hit.

Dead marsupials may also still have living babies in their pouches.

"If the animal has a joey in its pouch never pull it off the teat, cut the teat close to the mother's body or wait for a carer to arrive," Mrs Silk said.

Mrs Silk can be reached on 0410334661, and is available 24/7.

Injured animals can also be taken to the UQ Gatton vet hospital.


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