WILDLIFE shelters, carers and vets are gearing up for an influx of displaced, injured and distressed animals in the second stage of centre median vegetation lopping along the Mornington Peninsula Freeway.
Works were expected to begin yesterday (Monday 13 August) between Moorooduc Highway and Nepean Highway, Dromana following a VicRoads decision to install wire rope barriers along the freeway’s centre median strip for 18 kilometres from Mt Martha to Rosebud.
The first stage of the centre median clearing in September – from Bruce Road, Mt Martha, to Nepean Highway, Safety Beach – resulted in the disturbance of animals “at a rate higher than expected and the project was suspended”, a review of the work for VicRoads by consultant Biosis found.
“Shelters took in dozens of displaced animals collected by wildlife carers and, upon review, it was determined that an action plan was required for the remaining stages of the vegetation removal,” the Biosis report stated.
VicRoads plans to remove native vegetation on either side of the freeway as well as dense growth along the centre median strip. This area is home to animals including ringtail possums, echidnas, birds and rodents but gets in the way of the wire rope barriers which need at least three metres of “flex” room to function properly in the event of a collision.
Australian Wildlife Protection Council secretary Eve Kelly said on Thursday 9 August she would “touch base with Habitat Management Services before Monday to go over the plan for baby possums”.
“Klarissa, of Klarissa Wildlife Shelter, has three baby possums in care at the moment, which means that shelters are beginning to fill up,” she said.
“This year, as has been the case in the past few years, spring has sprung early and possums are starting to have babies now. I have seen birds also starting to nest as well. Obviously, it’s a better situation than last time but, still, it would have been better to have the clearing done in the start/middle of winter rather than at the end.”
VicRoads senior construction engineer Raymond Seow contacted animal carers last week “to inform you that Active Tree Services will be commencing the vegetation removal and fauna relocation work at the median from Jetty Road on Monday 13 August”.
The Australian Wildlife Protection Council is opposed to the clearing for safety barriers because any loss of habitat will have a negative impact on wildlife.
“We appreciate the efforts VicRoads has gone to in working with us to minimise the impacts on wildlife welfare where possible,” Ms Kelly said.