A SPATE of animal deaths on Mornington Peninsula roads over spring has led to renewed calls for more effective strategies to slow drivers down and keep wildlife off roads.
The Save Kangaroos on the Mornington Peninsula group (SKOMP) wants Mornington Peninsula Shire Council to lobby the state government and private road operator Peninsula Link to make roads safer for wildlife and drivers.
Cr David Gill said exclusion fencing, wildlife corridors and more 40-kilometre speeds limits in high accident areas could save lives.
“Unfortunately, the Department of Transport and private road operators don’t have policies to protect wildlife,” he said. “Unless the issue is driver safety, nothing will be done, but of course wildlife on the roads is a matter of driver safety, so it should be part of their remit.”
In Tyabb residents had been calling for the speed limit to be reduced at the bridge end of Balnarring Road to 60kph to help protect koalas, swamp wallabies and native ducks that crossed farmland on both sides of the road.
“We all know this is difficult to change because wildlife is not an official consideration for VicRoads,” Gill said.
The Department of Transport says it does consider wildlife when designing roads, and that preventing collisions with animals is an “ongoing challenge”.
“Minimising impact to wildlife and biodiversity is also taken into consideration during the design and construction of new road projects,” a department spokesperson said.
She said the department encouraged motorists to travel at safe speeds, leaving plenty of space between them and the car in front and to take extra care in signposted areas where wildlife may be more active.
Wildlife signs were installed on key parts of the road network where animals were most likely to be active near key roads, and roads operated by the department were inspected “on a regular basis”. Wildlife Victoria was notified of injured or dead animals.
“We will continue to engage with those undertaking research to identify opportunities for reducing wildlife collisions on our network,” she said.
Peninsula Link operators were contacted for comment.
The mayor Cr Steve Holland said protecting wildlife and reducing the number of vehicle collisions involving native animals were council priorities.
“We piloted the use of electronic variable message signs in 2019 and found a significant reduction in the number of kangaroos killed in vehicle collisions. We now have an ongoing electronic sign program focussed on our high-risk rural roads,” he said.
“We generally have four boards at two locations and rotate them every six months. Currently, they are at Cape Schanck Road in Cape Schanck and Merricks Road in Red Hill.
“We also work with the Mornington Peninsula Koala Conservation Group to produce and install static roadside signs alerting drivers to koala activity and asking them to drive carefully. These have been installed at 54 locations for the 2023-24 mating season.
“In 2022 the council also installed virtual fencing technology at a wildlife collision hot spot along Browns Road, Boneo. The technology, which has been proven to reduce wildlife deaths, is activated by an approaching car’s headlights and uses sound and light to deters kangaroos and wallabies from crossing the road.”
Injured native animals can be reported to Wildlife Victoria on 8400 7300.