• Tony Bosworth

Koalas and wombats on the move – locals call for signs and for motorists to slow down after deaths



In the last three weeks, at least three wombats have been killed on the section of Bells Line of Road through Bilpin and Kurrajong Heights - and it’s spurred locals into asking for urgent help to stop the carnage.


“Three local wombats killed in three weeks,” says Bilpin’s Dannii Warner who is a member of WIRES but spoke to the Post as a concerned local animal rescuer. “The call outs break my heart,” she said.


She has been urgently asking around to see if anyone could lend a mobile electronic message trailer to warn motorists to slow down.


“It’s the same time as last year,” said Ms Warner, “and back then I had four call outs to this same stretch of road.”


“We need to protect these furry friends,” she said, and the need for protection is underlined because of the deaths of many native animals during the Black Summer bushfire emergency – they are only just starting to recover.



Call goes out for electronic warning signs along Bells Line of Road


Wombats are on the move now as they enter mating season and koalas are active too across the Hawkesbury with some trying to cross busy BLOR and others ambling across Bowen Mountain Road too in the last week.


Ms Warner says buzzing road pole reflectors are a long-term option as are signs and variable electronic boards during mating and movement season.


“High up people need to listen to the volunteers on the front line,” she says.


Meanwhile, Deputy Mayor Mary Lyons-Buckett and Greens councillor Danielle Wheeler responded to appeals from locals including Ms Warner on social media and went into action this weekend to try and get Hawkesbury Council to come up with some solutions, and that will lead this week to new triangular warning signs going up on local roads in areas of increased kola activity, including where koalas have been crossing.


This koala was helped across the road by resident Steve Shep this last weekend. Pic: Steve Shep


“The [Hawkesbury Council] Director of Infrastructure will be talking to Transport for NSW (TfNSW) and National Parks about solutions along Bells Line of Road, Cllr Lyons-Buckett told the Post.


It’s not just crossing busy roads which is sometimes a struggle for our native wildlife – when it comes to BLOR there is also often an issue once they have safely crossed the road.


Kurrajong Heights resident Steve Shep helped a koala get back into the bush after crossing BLOR only the other day and he pointed to a regular crossing place near Kurrajong North Public School where koalas then have to try and climb a shale bank, which is next to impossible. They get tired as they continue to try and climb, only to fall back down to the roadside time after time.

“There’s a natural tree line koalas follow when moving south,” says Steve. “Trouble is, they get to the end of this corridor, climb down, then because of the road wall they get funnelled to the bend below the Primary School, they then cross BLOR but are faced with a sheer shale wall they can’t climb.


“Their only option is to walk along the BLOR roadway, putting them in great danger.”



Trapped - funnelled down the side of Bells Line of Road from the treeline, this koala can't climb the shale banking. Pic: Anastasia Smiljanic


Given there is already an electronic sign just before Kurrajong village we asked Transport for NSW (TfNSW) if the wording on that could be changed to alert drivers to the possibility of animals crossing BLOR.


“Investigations will be made to determine if the variable message sign on the Bells Line of Road before Kurrajong could be changed to highlight the risk to wildlife at this location,” a spokesperson

said.


But they also told us they weren’t aware of “significant levels of wildlife injury along the Bells Line of Road approaching Kurrajong Heights”.


“TfNSW is investigating a number of vehicle strike hotspots across NSW with a focus on koalas,” a spokesperson told the Post on Monday.

“Transport for NSW encourages the community to report injured wildlife by calling WIRES on 1300 094 737. Community members can also use the IFAW Wildlife rescue app to find a suitable wildlife organisation for your location or to log a report of a deceased animal.

“Community reporting of such instances, including information about animal road deaths, provides Transport for NSW with a vital source of intelligence about locations where animals are being injured or killed,” the spokesperson said.


The main message is – look out for wildlife and slow down so they can cross roads safely.





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