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Byron Shire
May 18, 2021

Four koalas dead near Pacific Highway upgrade

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Koala in a tree at Meerschaum Vale (credit: Heather Dunn)

The death of four koalas at Meerschaum Vale near the Pacific Highway upgrade has prompted calls for a monitoring program and more funds for wildlife carers.

Greens MP Tamara Smith said she had seen evidence that four koalas had died in the past four weeks.

‘I am saddened and appalled at the loss of Ballina’s koalas, not through disease but as a result of traffic and the disruption caused by highway construction,’ Ms Smith said.

‘One koala was run over by a vehicle near the Eaton’s Quarry site, one died as a result of not being able to find enough food near the Thurgates Lane site, a joey died after its mother went missing by Wardell Rd and another died after wandering onto farmland where koalas have not been seen for 20 years.

‘These koalas have been displaced by the cutting down of habitat at Meerschaum Vale, they have become disorientated by removal of food trees and distressed by increased vehicle noise, dust, rock blasting and heavy vibration rollers.

‘I am calling on the NSW government to establish a monitoring programme to ensure that Ballina’s koalas are located, tracked and given health checks. I also call on them to increased funding for local wildlife rescue services.

‘This already vulnerable koala population will not be able to withstand the current rate of one death per week.

‘The government needs to take action now to save the local population of our national icon.’.


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7 COMMENTS

  1. This insane expansion of the Pacific Highway will cause the loss of a nationally significant Koala population.

    The highway currently being built is around 3km longer than the highway it is replacing. No Koalas needed to die to make a new highway because there is so much cleared land available to make it safe and to engineer it to the required standards.

    Shame on RTA/RMS, the various state and commonwealth ministers who have presided over this appalling destruction of our life support systems and in particular shame on the managers who have facilitated this catastrophic development from its very inception in late 2004.

    There is no accountability for the route development processes and outcomes of RTA/RMS activities along the Pacific Highway. A commission might help to expose the truth about the conduct of RMS, lackeys and consultants, but it won’t do anything to reverse the extinctions, nor to avoid paying back the looming extinction debt.

    It is a grim and impoverished web that we are weaving for our children..

    • The accountability for the route development processes for the new highway along the lower Richmond is outlined in the RTA’s report on the preferred alignment. One of the striking things reading it is the number of social, cultural, environmental, geotechnical and other engineering considerations that go into choosing an alignment. It outlines that 84% of the land this alignment passes through is already cleared. Simply focusing on the impact on one particularly cute mammal and the length of the highway might make for good publicity but it is simplistic indeed. Even with koalas you need to consider the net impact of the completed highway, not just cases of deaths that might be caused the impact of construction.

      It may be that closer monitoring of the impact on koalas is needed or at least politic, but can I suggest that most people in NSW would question the sanity of further delaying the anticipated faster and more comfortable journey, and 65% reduction in accidents and resultant harm to humans and animals.

      • Peter

        Nothing simplistic about my contribution. The current highway is float and straight and goes through cleared degraded land. The new route substantially deviates to the west and fragments and destroys the largest patches of native vegetation remaining in Ballina Shire, including surrounding the Ngunya-Jargoon Indigenous Protected Area (an important part of the National Reserve System) with a freeway / concrete barrier.

        The reality is that no biodiversity needed to be destroyed to make the highway safer or faster.

        The route selection process, as with much of the conduct of the RTA/RMS was a fraudulent sham.

    • H Mark,

      Totally agree. thanks for all your great work (for over a decade) in highlighting to the RMS, Government, and community what was at stake with this ill conceived highway diversion through some of Ballina’s most sacred Aboriginal sites and our nationally significant wildlife corridor. Bob Higgins and the RMS team valued marginal cane farm land above all else.

      • Thanks Jeff

        Thanks for all your efforts to prevent this happening too. Much respect to you..

        I am gutted that this monstrosity is happening.

        Bob Higgins and his shonky lackeys have delivered us all an impoverished future. Our children (and the very sick Richmond River) will suffer the major negative consequences of this hideous misplaced infrastructure.

  2. Absolutely, this must happen now!! We need the NSW government to establish a monitoring programme for Ballina’s koalas to be located, tracked and given health checks. We also need government funding for local wildlife rescue services.

  3. If you are as enraged about this as I am then please attend a peaceful protest for koalas being held by the Animal Justice Party in Peace Park Lismore at noon on Tuesday. The Berejiklian Government want to have new disastrous forestry agreements in place for 20 yrs. The koalas will not survive this massive and wilful destruction of their habitat.

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