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DPTI MEDIA RELEASE - WARNING OVER FREEWAY ANIMAL RESCUES

28 November 2016

Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure’s Chief Operating Officer, Paul Gelston said there had been several recent reports of drivers stopping on the South Eastern Freeway to rescue koalas.


“If you see an animal on the freeway, please slow down where it is safe to do so but do not stop or leave your vehicle,” Mr Gelston said.


“We understand that people want to help animals, but stopping on the freeway is extremely dangerous and has the potential to cause serious accidents.


“If you or a passenger can make a phone call safely, call the traffic management centre on 1800 018 313 and we can alert other drivers that there is a hazard via electronic signs on the freeway.


Stopping on the freeway is an offence under the Road Traffic Act and carries a fine of $255 plus a Victims of Crime Levy of $60.


Department of Environment, Water and Natural Resources Animal Welfare Manager Dr Deb Kelly said koalas and other animals were naturally more active during spring and summer.


“This is the time of year that they are looking for mates, and when last year’s offspring leave their parents and establish their own territory,” Dr Kelly said.


“Recent rains mean that there is plenty of vegetation on roadsides, and this attracts kangaroos and wallabies.


“If you are travelling in the Hills or other areas where you know there are animals, please slow down and keep a good watch, especially between dusk and dawn, as this is when wildlife is most active.

“If you hit an animal, or you see an injured animal by the road, only stop if it is safe to do so, and never stop on the freeway.


“Stopping when it is not safe puts the animal, you and other motorists at risk.


“Don’t try to care for injured animals yourself – always call a wildlife rescue group for assistance.”
On the South Eastern Freeway, wildlife safety measures include koala crossing signage and netting over concrete road barriers.


Traffic Management Centre staff monitor the South Eastern Freeway and if they spot a koala in a hazardous area they can lower speed limits, change variable message signs to advise motorists where appropriate and contact the relevant authorities