Wildlife routes in dis­re­pair

Southern Telegraph - - Telegraph News - Ai­den Boy­ham

The con­di­tion of fauna un­der­passes on the For­rest High­way near Bal­divis has been thrust into the spot­light, with key lo­cal stake­hold­ers call­ing for ur­gent ac­tion to pro­tect wildlife.

Bal­divis MLA Reece Whitby and pres­i­dent of the Bal­divis Land­care Group, Jeff An­der­ton, have called for ac­tion af­ter it emerged the un­der­passes were poorly main­tained and be­ing dam­aged by ve­hi­cles.

The seven un­der­passes are built in the vicin­ity of Stake­hill Road and the Bal­divis Ex­plo­sive Re­serve as well as op­po­site the Paganoni Swamp Re­serve.

They were built as an en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tion of con­struc­tion of the high­way, with the safe ac­cess ar­eas un­der­neath the road de­signed to al­low an­i­mals, in­clud­ing western grey kan­ga­roos, ac­cess to food and wa­ter in wet­lands at Paganoni Swamp.

Mr Whitby said an­i­mals would not use the tun­nels if they were too ex­posed in an open space.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the tun­nels have been ripped up by trail bikes and quad bikes and all the veg­e­ta­tion in and around the tun­nel en­trances has been wiped out,” Mr Whitby said.

“More needs to be done to en­sure veg­e­ta­tion gets a chance to grow to pro­vide shel­ter and cover to an­i­mals so they can ac­tu­ally use the un­der­passes to get to wet­lands and food sources on ei­ther side of the free­way.”

Mr An­der­ton said the Bal­divis Land­care Group had been try­ing for 18 months to get some­thing done but it had been a strug­gle for one govern­ment de­part­ment to take re­spon­si­bil­ity.

“It’s about time the agen­cies lived up to their re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Mr An­der­ton said.

“The big one we are con­cerned about is 2.6m high. That could be an ex­am­ple of what should be done on the free­ways but it’s been al­lowed to de­grade.”

Main Roads is be­lieved to be re­spon­si­ble for the un­der­passes and was con­tacted for com­ment.

Un­der­passes for fauna on the For­rest High­way near Bal­divis and Kar­nup have been dam­aged by trail and quad bikes.

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