Council is actively looking into ways to fund special fencing to help prevent death and injury to koalas from vehicles using Hogbin Drive.
“The stretch of Hogbin Drive from the airport to the university campus has been identified as a blackspot by the Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES), Council and the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, because of the high number of sightings and koala deaths caused by traffic,” said Sally Whitelaw, Council’s Team Leader Biodiversity.
“Having looked carefully at the issue, we all agree that the installation of koala exclusion fencing is the only viable long-term solution at that location and we’re looking at ways to fund those works as soon as possible.”
Data from WIRES has recorded 21 incidents – 13 deaths and eight sightings – of koalas in the Hogbin Drive area from 2006 to September 2020.
Council, in collaboration with the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment, has analysed the feasibility of a number of options to reduce the risk of koalas coming into contact with vehicles.
“The road is already signposted with koala signs, but we know that these become less effective over time for local drivers as they become ‘sign blind’ on roads they use a lot,” said Ms Whitelaw.
“Additional signage – including on-road surface marking or flashing warning signs – as well as speed reduction were also investigated, but were found to be unsuitable due to the high volume of traffic and the road’s importance as a key route.
“Lighting, more under or overpasses, audio deterrents, roadside reflectors and emerging technology such as virtual fences were also investigated, but current evidence has not shown them to be as effective as koala exclusion fencing.”
Scoping of the project has indicated that fencing will cost in the range of $450,000 to $800,000.
While this project is designed to help protect koalas in the Hogbin Drive area, more broadly a review of the Coffs Harbour Koala Plan of Management 1999 is underway in accordance with State Environmental Planning Policy (Koala Habitat Protection) 2020.
Information on koala sightings is always welcome and people are asked to register all encounters on Council’s Koala Register to help target areas for funding.