Eye-opening regional tour highlights wildlife hazard

LOCAL Government planning assessors have given the green light for a property owner at Port MacDonnell to house refrigerated containers to store kangaroo carcasses. The proposal was rubber-stamped by the Grant District Council's Development Assessment Panel earlier this month with a number of conditions. This follows the State Government sweeping in new regulations allowing the eastern grey kangaroo to be commercially harvested in the Limestone Coast. The applicant sought approval to store the refrigerated containers at 50 Jones Road, Port MacDonnell, which is located in a primary production zone. According to the proposal, each container can house about 180 carcasses. No processing of meat will occur on the site and carcasses will be delivered to the site on a utility. "Gutting and skinning of carcasses will occur on site where the kangaroos are shot,'" according to the applicant. "Within two to three days of filling the chillers, a small truck will pick up the carcasses and deliver them to an abattoir for processing." Conditions imposed by the panel include the site must be clean and tidy at all times and noise levels are not to exceed those specified by the Environment Protection Authority. Other conditions relate to ensuring there was no odour, dust, pollution, noise or electrical interference at the site. The two refrigerated containers also must be removed from the property when either the land use or the contract with the meat processor ceases. Under the expanded harvesting zones, more than 7000 eastern grey kangaroos could be potentially harvested across the Limestone Coast this year following the long-standing ban being lifted. The state's harvesting zone was expanded amid high numbers of the native animal across the region. It is hoped the harvest will spearhead the development of a kangaroo meat processing sector and reduce the number of animal vehicle collisions. The Mount Gambier district has been identified as a hotspot for animal collisions.

Kangaroos (2)  TBW Newsgroup
A HOPPING PROBLEM: Rising kangaroo numbers in the region may increase the risk of vehicle collisions in the region. These kangaroos were snapped in Port MacDonnell, which has seen rising numbers of the native animal. Picture: SANDRA MORELLO

A PEAK road safety advocacy group has called on regional motorists to be “vigilant” on the road network given the risk of colliding with wildlife and wandering livestock.

The warning follows RAA senior road safety manager Charles Mountain spotting a myriad of native wildlife and livestock on the roadside during a visit to the region this week.

During this fact finding mission about condition of the road network, he witnessed eastern grey kangaroos, emus, goats and sheep grazing on the roadside during daylight.

“We saw a lot of kangaroos grazing in the middle of the day,” Mr Mountain said.

He said this debunked suggestions the risk of a colliding with kangaroo only occurred at dawn or dusk when the native animals were most active.

Mr Mountain said he was surprised with the number animals on the roadside in the middle of the day while travelling on regional roads.

He urged motorists to be particularly careful in areas where visibility on the roadside was hampered by bushes and vegetation.

“People should not swerve to avoid hitting a kangaroo, they should brake firmly,” Mr Mountain told The Border Watch.

He said swerving could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which could lead to tragic outcomes.

“It is a terrible feeling to hit an animal on the road,” Mr Mountain said.

He also urged to people to pull over after a collision and check on the condition of the animal as well as contact police or a wildlife rescue service if needed.

Regarding the high number of kangaroos seen during his visit, he said it appeared drought conditions in other regions could be pushing populations to greener areas.

Mr Mountain criss-crossed the region’s road network, including the Riddoch Highway and other arterial and country roads.

The RAA manager said he would release a report about his visit, which also included liaising with community members and stakeholders.

Mr Mountain would not be drawn into commenting about Grant District Council’s push to introduce a sustainable kangaroo harvest in the region.

The eastern grey kangaroo – which inhabits the Lower South East – is a protected species in the region.

This means sustainable commercial harvesting of the eastern grey kangaroo is banned.

A snapshot of road crashes in the South East suggest up to 40pc of vehicle collisions on rural roads were roads in the Mount Gambier district were contributed to kangaroos.

Insurance companies have also labelled Mount Gambier as a “hotspot” for animal collisions in state.

The RAA has announced its seven key pre-federal election priorities, which including duplication of the Dukes Highway from Tailem Bend to the SA/Victorian border.

The peak motoring advocacy group is also pushing for the recognition of the Riddoch Highway as part of the national highway network, making it eligible for Commonwealth funding of critical safety upgrades.