This letter writer says more needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of koalas being hit and killed by cars on local roads.
This letter writer says more needs to be done to reduce the likelihood of koalas being hit and killed by cars on local roads.

Deaths on Coffs' roads spark call to action

Koalas have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons in recent months.

A NSW parliamentary inquiry has found that koalas will become extinct in NSW before 2050 and that habitat loss remains the biggest threat to the species' survival in NSW yet logging and clearing continues.

But the inquiry also heard that remaining Coffs Harbour populations could hold the key to the future survival of the species.

The late 2019/early 2020 bushfires left a devastating toll. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)
The late 2019/early 2020 bushfires left a devastating toll. (Photo by Lisa Maree Williams/Getty Images)

In recent weeks The NSW Nationals have taken a strong stand on the issue threatening to cross the floor in relation to the new koala SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy).

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ON THE BRINK: Coffs' role in the survival of wild koalas

On a local level, the matter of fencing to protect local populations was up for discussion at the recent Coffs Harbour City Council meeting.

This letter writer has shared his thoughts on the outcome:

Call for urban koala report

AT the recent Coffs Harbour City Council meeting on September 10, Cr Sally Townley called for Council to prepare a report into options for koala protection measures in our urban areas following recently recorded deaths of several koalas, including breeding females, on local roads.

Recent hot spots for vehicle strikes have been Hogbin Drive between the airport and the university, the section of highway south of the Hospital, and Pine Creek Way near Bonville to the south.

This koala was hit by a car and left for dead on the highway near the Lyons Road intersection.
This koala was hit by a car and left for dead on the highway near the Lyons Road intersection.

We are reminded of a 2013 study which estimated a resident population of only 50 individual koalas existed at that time between the Korora Basin and Sawtell.

The original CHCC Koala Plan of Management 2000 contained an often overlooked Part B, which set out a range of amelioration measures which could be adopted to assist in preventing road mortality of our local koala.

Unfortunately, implementation of many of these recommended measures has not been as high a priority as it could have been. While options such as roadside fauna fencing are expensive to install, they have been shown to be effective.

Dave Wood at a site court visit in April last year in relation to a development proposed for lot 2 Sawtell Rd.
Dave Wood at a site court visit in April last year in relation to a development proposed for lot 2 Sawtell Rd.

The original section of fauna fence near Newport's Creek bridge on Hogbin Drive has needed repair. It also needs extending to be effective.

We believe an offer from WIRES earlier in the year for both supply and install of wildlife signage at designated fauna hot spots was also turned down by CHCC.

There is an argument that fixed signage is ineffective, although a trial using the large temporary portable electronic signs may be worth exploring.

Better roadside lighting is another element which can assist motorists to look out for and avoid striking nocturnal wildlife when they are on the move.

While it is good that Cr. Townley's request has highlighted the issue, we fear it will only be a waste of time unless it results in some urgent and effective action. We are also aware that the relevant Council staff have been alerted to the issue by frustrated WIRES personnel, and are already considering some options. Let's hope it gets the attention and funding it deserves.

We once again remind local motorists of the need for extra vigilance along any area adjacent to bushland where koala are likely to be crossing roads, and the need for timely reporting of any casualties, including deceased animals to WIRES on 02 6652 7119.

Dave Wood,

for Save Lot 2 Sawtell Road



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