‘Virtual’ fence erected to protect native wildlife from traffic on NSW South Coast – ABC

By October 27, 2022 December 5th, 2022 Archive

ABC South East NSW / By Fatima Olumee
Posted 26th Oct 2022 at 8:19am

Eurobodalla Shire Council will be the first council in NSW to implement virtual fences to protect animals from cars.(Supplied: WIRES)

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A Far South Coast council has become the first council in NSW to launch a virtual fence aimed at warning animals of approaching cars on the road.

Key points:
• NSW’s first council-owned virtual fence has been installed on the South Coast
• A virtual fence emits light and sound to discourage native wildlife from going near roads
• Eurobodalla council hopes to expand the virtual fences to other parts of the shire

The Eurobodalla Shire Council has been working closely with local branches from the NSW Wildlife Information Rescue and Education Service (WIRES) and the Coastwatchers Association to install a series of light and sound-emitting fence posts at roadkill hotspots north of Batemans Bay.

“It lets off a sound and also provides a blue light to encourage native wildlife to pause when a car is coming by,” Eurobodalla Shire Council’s Natural Resource Supervisor, Courtney Fink-Downes said.

Virtual fences emit a high-pitched sound and blue lights to alert animals of oncoming traffic.(Supplied)

The fence posts, installed along Cullendulla Drive and Blairs Road in Long Beach, can sense and detect the sound, movement, and headlights of an approaching car.

“The lights and the sound can be picked up from a distance, so it actually can stop the wildlife from coming right up to the road,” Ms Fink-Downes said.
“Car headlights often startle the wildlife and then they get dazed and sometimes will go into the traffic.”

Courtney Fink-Downes hopes the virtual fence is successful and lead to more being installed.(ABC South East NSW: Fatima Olumee)

Ms Fink-Downes said she hoped the virtual fence was successful and data would help support the implementation of the same method in other hotspot areas throughout the shire.

Virtual fences were most effective on a road with a speed limit of 80 kilometres per hour or less, Ms Fink-Downes said, because the slower vehicles were travelling the longer the sound and the blue light remained active.

While other states such as Tasmania have already begun using virtual fences, this is the first time a local council has launched one in NSW.

Charles Sturt University also trialled virtual fencing in the Snowy Monaro region of NSW in March in an effort to improve the conservation of wombats.

The council received funding for the fence posts through grants secured by WIRES Mid South Coast and the Eurobodalla Coastwatchers Association.

WIRES volunteer Caroline Roberts says the virtual fence could save many lives of animals.(ABC South East NSW: Fatima Olumee)

“I can’t believe how lucky we are to test it because this is where we are continually doing pouch checks for kangaroos that are killed; there’s so much activity here,” WIRES Mid South Coast volunteer Caroline Roberts said.

“It means that [native animals] continue to live and it means babies don’t lose their mothers, which happens a lot,” she said.

Ms Roberts has been rescuing wildlife for more than five years and said it could be tiring for volunteers to care for so many vulnerable animals.

“If we can limit the drain on our resources as people get exhausted when they’re up feeding joeys through the night, it would be fabulous,” she said.