27 September 2023

Road safety trial to save motoring koalas

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The Department of Environment and Science (DES) and the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR) have cooperated in the trial of koala safety shields, with the aim of having them installed on the M1 motorway.

Koala shields — metal guards affixed to posts along the M1 motorway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast — prevent the claws of koalas and other nocturnal wildlife from getting a grip on the poles.

The shields are being tested at DES’s wildlife facility, David Fleay Wildlife Park, where they were installed onto structures within the koala enclosure, similar to the pylons along the M1.

Video cameras were installed to monitor the koalas’ efforts.

Minister for the Environment and Science, Meaghan Scanlon said the koala was an iconic native animal that was very territorial.

“A motorway filled with thousands of speeding cars will not deter a koala determined to get to the other side,” Ms Scanlon said.

“This trial has delivered very promising results. Not a single koala was able to climb past the shields and in a bonus result, a possum also tried and was unsuccessful.”

She said the trial also enabled the teams to make informed decisions about the size of the shields and the best placement of them on the pylon.

“While the DES team provided the testing site and the koalas, along with koala expertise, the TMR team provided the shields, and construction and materials support,” the Minister said.

“The next step is for shields to be installed on sections of noise barriers on the M1 Motorway.”

She said this work, and the work to get these shields operational, would help thousands of koalas in South-East Queensland.

“Beyond that, who knows, there may be adaptive uses that see this technology exported to other jurisdictions,” Ms Scanlon said.

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