The local koala population is being heavily impacted by motorists as they move around trying to find territory with enough food and opportunities to breed in the ever reducing and fragmented koala habitat areas on the north coast.
Lismore City Council has identified koala blackspots across their local government area where drivers need to be aware of the high chance of encountering wildlife. These are based on an analysis of records detailing koalas injured or killed in traffic incidents over recent years. Council has established koala zones by installing static signage, pavement markings and vehicle-activated signage on Wyrallah Road from Tucki Road south to Tuckurimba Road and then a further two kilometres south along Tuckurimba Road. They form part of a range of measures that have been implemented since 2013 to protect Lismore’s urban koala population as outlined in the Comprehensive Koala Plan of Management.
‘This section of Wyrallah Road around Tucki Tucki is well known for incidents involving koalas and cars as the road travels through an important area of habitat supporting a known koala population,’ Council’s environmental strategies officer Wendy Neilan said.
‘Recent vehicle speed monitoring has shown that the majority of drivers are exceeding the speed limit through this area. We will measure the effectiveness of the new koala zones by monitoring for reductions in vehicle speeds and koala vehicle strikes now that signage has been installed.’
Koalas are constantly moving between habitat areas across the landscape. They are most active during their breeding season from September to March, and it is during this time each year that Friends of the Koala (FOK) receives its highest number of calls about injured or dead animals.
‘While FOK understands this issue to be long-standing, the recent image that reached the news and social media of the injured koala in the St Helena tunnel has really brought this concern to the surface for the wider community,’ FOK president Dr Ros Irwin said.
‘Our Northern Rivers koala populations remain highly threatened and we cannot afford to lose any more to road accidents.’
Wendy explained that by sticking to the signed speed limit, drivers can greatly reduce their chance of hitting a koala as well as keeping themselves and other road users safe.
‘Council appeals to local motorists to be vigilant when driving, especially between dusk and dawn which is the peak time for our wildlife to be moving between trees and bushland,’ Wendy said.
‘Driving at the speed limit of 80km/hr as opposed to 90km/hr along this stretch of road may extend your travel time by less than one minute. We hope that the community will consider this a small price to pay to help save our beautiful koalas.’
FOK’s new Koalas and Roads glovebox guide tells people what to do and who to call if they see a koala on the road or know that one has been hit.
‘An injured koala will often try to climb a tree, and it is always surprising what they can do with substantial injuries when their adrenalin kicks in,’ FOK’s koala watch project coordinator Maria Matthes said.
‘Female koalas, dead or alive, may have a live joey in the pouch. All injured koalas need urgent attention.’
To report sick or injured koalas, phone the FOK hotline on 6622 1233. To receive a Koalas and Roadsglovebox guide phone the FOK Care Centre on 6621 4664.