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Wildlife ‘carnage’ at new Edgars Road extension in Epping

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Grace Frost
Grace Frost
Hi, I'm Grace Frost. I was honoured to report for the Review as their Digital Journalist from mid-2022 to the beginning of 2024. Ive since made a move to the Herald Sun.

By Grace Frost

Wildlife Victoria has flagged an ‘urgent need’ to address the safety of kangaroos at the recently-opened extension of Edgars Road in Epping.

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The new stretch of Edgars Road, between O’Herns Road and Rockfield Street, was opened in August to improve connection to the Hume Freeway and decrease congestion.

Wildlife Victoria noted a spike in wildlife injuries and fatalities caused by collisions with cars in the area since the extension opened, with kangaroos left in the firing line of two-way traffic.

Wildlife Victoria chief executive Lisa Palma said the movement of kangaroos posed a ‘significant risk’ to the safety of the animals and road users.

“The habitat of the [kangaroos] has been disrupted by the extension of Edgars Road and with a viable water source only accessible on the eastern side of the road, they will continue to cross,” she said.

“Habitat destruction due to increased urbanisation is impacting wildlife across the state and we join the City of Whittlesea in calling on the State Government to develop a regional approach to better protect our wildlife.”

Watch as a kangaroo is narrowly missed at the new extension of Edgars Road in Epping.

Wildlife Victoria data revealed 442 animals were killed or injured by vehicles in the City of Whittlesea in 2022.

Another 343 were killed or injured between January and July 31 this year.

Wildlife rescuer Krysti Severi, from Rescue Rehabilitate Release, labelled the extension ‘an absolute and utter disaster’ after witnessing wildlife ‘carnage’ since it opened.

She was called to the extension last month to euthanise a female kangaroo who was hit by a car.

The kangaroo’s joey was also euthanised, suffering from a broken back after falling from her mother’s pouch.

With the help of community members who stopped to assist, Ms Severi, rescued another joey who had been orphaned on the same day.

Community members stop to assist wildlife affected by traffic collisions at the new extension of Edgars Road in Epping. The joey pictured left was rescued after being orphaned, and the right euthanised due to irreparable spinal damage.

Another three kangaroos were narrowly missed by cars while she was at the site.

“There was never a thought to their safety or the safety of the road users,” Ms Severi said.

“They put in a road in the middle of their habitat.

“We’re not dealing with introduced species… we’re talking about native animals that belong here.”

Development Victoria delivered the extension and own the land at 188A O’Herns Road, Epping, which forms part of the Aurora Estate.

Development Victoria group head of housing Penny Forrest said the organisation was working with the City of Whittlesea to address concerns about the new extension.

“Based on expert advice, permanent yellow warning signs have been installed along Edgars Road, alerting drivers to the presence of kangaroos, and advising that they exercise caution while driving through the area,” she said

Ms Severi worried drivers had become desensitised to yellow kangaroo signage and were not slowing down or watching for wildlife.

After discussions with the City of Whittlesea, Development Victoria plan to install additional signs along Edgars Road to provide a phone number that motorists can call if they find injured wildlife in the area.

Wildlife rescuers called for more long-term solutions.

Ms Severi said the State Government needed to become more open to relocation or translocation of kangaroos, which wildlife rescuers were not allowed to undertake.

Development Victoria has engaged an independent ecologist to provide expert advice to manage the presence of kangaroos, with advice to feed into a Kangaroo Management Plan, KMP, for the area.

City of Whittlesea chief executive Craig Lloyd said council had recommended Development Victoria prepare a KMP prior to the road opening.

He said council did not own the land at the site and did not have the authority to manage kangaroos, but was still working to find appropriate solutions, including the installation of kangaroo signs and setting the speed limit to 50 kilometres an hour.

“The City of Whittlesea will continue to advocate to the State Government for a regional approach to kangaroo management,” he said.

Wildlife Victoria urged the State Government and Development Victoria to take immediate action to ensure the kangaroos’ survival.

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