21 October 2022

Eurobodalla trials virtual fences to prevent animal deaths on roads

| Albert McKnight
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A virtual fence has been placed along Cullendulla Drive at Long Beach to deter wildlife from the road when vehicles are present. Photo: ESC.

The Eurobodalla is the first region in NSW to install a virtual fence system in an attempt to stop animals crossing roads in front of motorists and save their lives.

The aim of the fence is to improve road safety and reduce animal roadkill, Eurobodalla Shire Council said.

It uses non-invasive audio and visual alerts to deter animals from crossing the road. Devices are placed at 25-metre intervals that are triggered in sequence by headlights as the vehicle moves along the road, so forming a virtual fence.

About 900 metres of virtual fence has been installed along Cullendulla Drive and 200 metres along Blairs Road at Long Beach, north of Batemans Bay, both of which are well-known roadkill hotspots, council said.

The idea was trialled in the Snowy Mountains region in a study led by Wagga researcher Dr Hayley Stannard. It was found to markedly reduce wombat deaths.

READ ALSO Wombat roadkill lowered by Wagga researcher’s virtual fences

“The virtual fence is designed to reduce wildlife death and injuries, and reduce vehicle damage and potential injuries or deaths to occupants,” council’s natural resources supervisor Courtney Fink-Downes said.

“The system we are using has been extensively tested … and researchers found a total roadkill reduction of 50 per cent, an excellent outcome for relatively low-cost low-maintenance technology.

“The question we want answered is, will it work that well here?”

Ms Fink-Downes said the two hotspots for the Eurobodalla trial were determined in collaboration with WIRES, while the funding for the fences was provided by Coastwatchers.

“It really is a huge community effort,” she said.

Rachel McInnes, volunteer rescuer and carer with the local WIRES branch, said her group gets many call outs to help kangaroos who have been hit by cars.

READ ALSO Charges dismissed against teens who admitted causing Batemans Bay kangaroo massacre

“Anything that helps us not have to do that, we are fully supportive of it,” she said.

“Often the kangaroos are hit at night and it becomes a safety issue for us as well.

“As far as we’re concerned, if we can prove this is effective … then we would love to see it in lots of other places.”

Ms McInnes said WIRES gets called to Cullendulla Drive a few times each month.

She said she was very grateful to council for installing the fences. The trial will run for a year.

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