Phillip Island community rally together to reduce road toll on wildlife

Wildlife Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks are working alongside Bass Coast Shire Council and the Department of Transport and Planning to reduce the wildlife road toll on Phillip Island.

The organisations came together after community members and wildlife rescuers on the Island flagged a substantial increase in the number of native animals injured and killed on Phillip Island’s roads.

Over the Easter period Wildlife Victoria deployed a specialised rescue unit to the Island to gain a better understanding of the wildlife road toll. In just seven days the team attended to 105 animals, across 19 different species. Of the 105 cases, only 21 had been called into Wildlife Victoria.

The first step in the animal road toll reduction plan includes increased roadside wildlife warning signs, which will all be installed prior to the busy summer period.

Phillip Island Nature Parks and Bass Coast Shire Council have coordinated road signage to warn local and visiting motorists about the endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoot hotspots, which is based on information provided by the community through the Citizen Science app.

Since the release of Eastern Barred Bandicoots on Summerland Peninsula in 2017, the species has gradually spread across the Island, with populations now becoming more visible on the Summerland Peninsula, Newhaven, Ventnor and Cape Woolamai.

As the bandicoot population grows, it has led to an increase in the endangered marsupials being hit and killed by cars. With these signs, we can educate our community on where to exercise caution.

The new signs will include a call to action for motorists to call Wildlife Victoria’s 24/7 Emergency Response Service on 03 8400 7300 to report any incidents of sick, injured, orphaned or deceased wildlife.

Conservationists and wildlife experts are urging motorists, community members and visitors to be extra vigilant and take their time on Phillip Island roads to reduce the number of road trauma incidents involving wildlife, particularly at dawn or dusk when they are most active.

Wildlife Victoria and Phillip Island Nature Parks will continue to work alongside the Bass Coast Shire Council and the Department of Transport and Planning to roll out additional mitigation strategies such as speed limit reviews, wildlife messaging for major events, and increased community and tourist engagement.

Wildlife Victoria CEO Lisa Palma said:

“We understand accidents happen. All we ask is that when they do, drivers call Wildlife Victoria to report them. Our Emergency Response Service is staffed by a team of highly experienced operators 24 hours a day, seven days a week, who can provide advice and, when required, dispatch a volunteer rescuer. You might just save a life.”

Phillip Island Nature Parks Conservation Manager Jessica McKelson said:

“Phillip Island is home to some of Victoria’s most unique and wonderful wildlife, penguins, endangered Eastern Barred Bandicoots and threatened birdlife. We are extremely lucky to live on an island haven with native wildlife and grateful that our collaborative efforts can contribute to motorist awareness.

“It is everybody’s responsibility to help protect and care for our local wildlife, particularly in peak holiday periods when more visitors travel to Phillip Island to enjoy our beautiful landscapes and natural wonders, and there is more traffic on our roads.

“We encourage the community to slow down on the roads, particularly at dawn and dusk when animals are active.”

Bass Coast Shire Council Mayor Cr Clare Le Serve said:

“Each year, Bass Coast attracts more than 3 million visitors to our beautiful part of the world – and that number is only expected to grow.

“Caring for our environment and our wildlife is a community obligation. We encourage our residents and visitors to be our eyes and ears on Phillip Island to ensure wildlife experts can respond as quickly as possible to sick, injured, or orphaned animals.”

Department of Transport and Planning, Regional Director (Gippsland) Beth Liley said:

“We encourage all road users to remain vigilant of wildlife across our transport network, to travel at safe speeds, leave plenty of space between them and the car in front and take extra care in signposted areas where wildlife may be more active.”

/Public Release. View in full here.