Wildlife volunteers working in Sydney’s southern tip said they were worried not only for the koalas they were trying to save, but also for their own safety.
- Koala Rescue Workers Say They’re Afraid to Stop to Rescue Koalas on Heathcote Road
- Most of the road is known as the ‘kill zone’, they say
- NSW transport says safety measures in place, but rescuers say it’s not enough
Michelle Wallis, Sutherland WIRES coordinator, said the lack of signage on Heathcote Road, the main highway linking south-west Sydney to the Illawarra River, made the already difficult task of parking on narrow, dark roads even more dangerous. said.
She said two koalas died this month after being hit by a car on a road just 200 meters away.
“We found that the cars were traveling very fast in the area. We are trying to slow the cars down at night,” she said.
Most koalas roam the roads around sunrise and sunset when they are most active.
Wallis said most of the road from Princess Highway in Engadine to Sandy Point near Holsworthy Barracks is “known as the ‘Kill Zone'”.
“The two people killed in the last two weeks were near Wollonora Bridge, so that’s Heathcote Road Engadine,” she said.
“Just three weeks ago, another one was killed near Sandy Point.”
Wallis said there were few signs or flashing lights, and the narrow roads near the bridge made it almost impossible to pull over.
“During our rescue about a year ago, we had to actually drive up a small hill, a dirt hill, and it was parked just off the road,” she said. rice field.
“We don’t have signs on our cars, so it’s very difficult to tell people what we’re doing.”
Koala deaths increase
Katherine Reynolds, a spokeswoman for the Sutherland Shire Environmental Center, said there had been a marked increase in the number of koala deaths reported on Heathcote Road in recent years.
“Recent incidents bring the multi-generational koala kill count to about 25 across the state,” Dr. Reynolds said.
“Out of a population of maybe 200, this is important.
“In 2021, along with seven other organizations, we have submitted a petition to NSW Transport for koala traffic mitigation at this site.”
Local resident Christy Walker was recently driving home along Heathcote Road when she saw a koala being run over.
The decision to withdraw still haunts her.
“The car in front braked so hard that I don’t know why, then all the cars braked.” [behind me] Thankfully it stopped,” she said.
“We were all in a situation where no one wanted to get out of the car because obviously it was really, really dangerous.
“My car got in the way of other cars and the woman who hit the koala drove off looking for a safe parking spot.
“After I got home, I was shocked because I actually still had the baby koala’s blood on my hands.”
“She said the road is a ‘death trap’ for both humans and koalas.
“I decided it would take me another 15 minutes to get home from work. I will never drive that road again in the evening,” Walker said.
Rescuers are allowed to use flashing lights
WIRES chief executive Leanne Taylor said people working for the organization were allowed to put flashing lights on their cars during rescues to improve safety, but they weren’t provided free of charge. said no.
“All licensed wildlife volunteers are permitted to install yellow or yellow flashing lights on parked vehicles when facilitating rescues,” she said.
A New South Wales Transport Authority spokeswoman said conservation of native wildlife was a priority and work was underway to improve koala safety and connectivity on Heathcote Road. .
“This includes work around Dead Man’s Creek and further plans to install a north-south fence in the future,” the spokesperson said.
“The Heathcote Road Bridge over the Wolonora River is in the final stages of construction and will incorporate a new koala fence developed with the advice of internal and external experts.”
But Dr. Reynolds said the Sutherland Shire Environmental Center has already taken issue with new construction to create a koala walkway under the Dead Man’s Creek road, which is made of metal and hard plastic. He said the koala’s claws have unsuitable holes.
In her view, the koala “furniture” installed was inadequate, she said.
“We couldn’t find any other examples of this raised hard plastic platform they set up being used for koalas,” she said.
“I doubt if koalas would actually use one.”
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-06-30/southern-sydney-s-heathcote-road-nsw-koala-kill-zone-dangerous/102533846 Koala ‘kill zone’ on Heathcote Road south of Sydney, dangerous for rescuers and marsupials