Wildlife concerns continue

Speed limits of up to 100km per hour on rural roads have concerned some Macedon Ranges residents who say they endanger wildlife.

Macedon Ranges Shire Council will investigate solutions to what residents say is an increase in wildlife being killed or injured on the shire’s roads.

A report detailing opportunities to improve wildlife safety on roads across the shire was received by council at the February ordinary meeting.

The report comes after residents raised concerns about the safety of wildlife in Riddells Creek, New Gisborne, Cherokee and Kerrie areas at council’s meeting in September last year.

Residents pushed for a change of speed limit to 50km/h on some roads where speeds are currently posted at 80 to 100km/h.

Council noted the concerns of residents about collisions on roads and acknowledge the residents’ request to investigate speed reductions.

It will also mean council will direct acting chief executive John Nevins to provide a report on the current planning and management of roads and guidance on the best way to reduce wildlife trauma.

Council’s traffic and road safety engineer Angela Jenks said Macedon Ranges Shire was always attracting new visitors and residents.

“The Macedon Ranges has long been regarded for its natural landscape beauty and wildlife attracting many visitors and new residents to our municipality,” she said.

“Locals, used to driving in areas where wildlife are present, know how to adapt their driving to consider wildlife. This includes knowing when wildlife is most likely to be on the road, either due to the time of day, weather conditions or food scarcity.

“The residential growth in Melbourne and surrounding suburbs has resulted in more drivers on our roads, and some of these drivers are not experienced in driving in rural areas on rural roads.

“Township growth is potentially adjacent to some animal populations’ food or movement corridors. These two things mean in parts of the shire there is more wildlife on or near the road and there are more drivers who are not experienced in driving where wildlife is present.

“This has caused concerns for residents and the community as they report noticing an increase in wildlife trauma.”

Resident concerns primarily fell into three categories including changes in traffic volumes on previously low traffic roads, changes in where wildlife were frequenting, and changes in the vegetation management in certain locations and consequent attraction of wildlife.

Ms Jenks said some people thought increased signage would be the best solution.

“Signage is frequently viewed by people as being the solution, along with speed reduction. Both come with restrictions on when and how they can be used,” she said.

“Signage has limited impact and is best used where there are either frequent experiences with groups of animals, or in areas of noted high incidence of wildlife road trauma.

“Signage is known to be most effective when people first notice a sign, but it soon loses its prominence and is then frequently noted by drivers as more of a landmark. The positive is that this means it is useful in areas where visitors or tourist drivers may frequent.”

Any speed changes on council-managed roads require approval from Regional Roads Victoria.

Ms Jenks said the speed guidelines helped to identify the appropriate speed limit for any given road, based on criteria such as road classification, road characteristics, nature of roadside development, and crash history.

“The speed guidelines do not identify 50 km/h as an appropriate speed limit for rural roads for the purpose of addressing wildlife safety,” she said.