Wildlife routes in disrepair
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.