By CRAIG McTEAR
KOALAS are dying in their droves on our roads and Rod McKelvey says enough is enough. The Coffs Harbour City councillor has persuaded the council to finalise a plan and costings for protective fencing along 'black spots' on Hogbin Drive to stop koalas trying to cross the road. Where fencing isn't feasible, safety lights alerting motorists to the presence of koalas could be the next best thing. Hogbin Drive has sent many of our furry friends to an early grave. Cr McKelvey says that according to Wildlife Information and Rescue Service figures, 36 koalas have been killed or badly injured on this major road between 1995 and 2001, with some survivors having to be euthanased. And in the past 10 weeks alone, 10 koalas have been killed on Coffs Harbour thoroughfares including Hogbin Drive, Lyons Road, the Pacific Highway at Bonville and roads in the western suburbs. Cr McKelvey said these deaths were both unsustainable and unacceptable. Motorists negotiating Hogbin Drive were also at risk of coming to grief when trying to avoid koalas on the road. The council has $31,000 from its Environmental Levy program up its sleeve for the fencing project if required, while a generous member of the public who doesn't wish to be identified has also pledged $30,000 to help. Sponsorship from the business community to supplement the council funds is also being explored. Up-to-date WIRES figures on koala deaths on Hogbin Drive and recommendations on the best locations for fencing will help the city's Koala Advisory Committee and council staff devise the best way forward. Cr McKelvey hopes planning for the project will be completed in the coming months. Koalas have faced increasing dangers on Hogbin Drive, particularly when council widened the southern section three years ago. "Koalas should not be considered a nuisance. We chose to build a city where they live," Cr McKelvey said.