‘Unfettered’ urban expansion is leaving a trail of destruction and dead animals in its wake, says one wildlife rescuer.
Kangaloola Wildlife Shelter’s Chris Lehmann said the number of animals in their care was increasing, as the North-East and Border region continues to expand and alter the native environment of wildlife.
“In Victoria, the number of wildlife emergencies doubles every 10 years due to the relentless urban, industrial and agricultural expansion of human society into their living places,” he said.
“We are pushing them out of their home and into less than ideal habitats, so they have to come back.
“When they come back to look for food and water what they find are vehicles, roads and dogs and we end up with dead animals.”
Mr Lehmann said the impact was evident in Baranduda, where a ‘beautiful little’ koala was killed over the weekend.
“She was hit by a car in Baranduda in broad daylight in an 80km/h zone,” he said.
“These animals don’t just jump out at you, they amble across the road so how someone managed to hit it…
“What’s even worse is it was just abandoned there still alive...it possibly could have been helped if we were called earlier.”
Last week, WWF Australia announced koala numbers were declining by 21 per cent per decade across eastern Australia and said by their calculations, koalas could disappear from the NSW wild by 2050.
Mr Lehmann said humans were doing ‘irrevocable harm’ to the ecosystem.
“Australia has the worst extinction rate for mammals of any continent,” he said.
“We’ve already lost about 27 species and there are quite a number of animals that could go extinct at anytime.
“If we don’t do anything we face a serious cultural loss, it’s unfathomable. It’s hard to know how people will feel when these iconic animals are gone.”
Wodonga Council’s planning and infrastructure director Leon Schultz said the area was leading the way in protecting habitats.
He said Wodonga Retained Environment Network identifies important conservation areas ahead of developments.
“The network has been a leader in preserving ecosystems, showing the rest of Victoria a way to protect native species while meeting the needs for housing development,” he said.
“It triggered the development of the Victorian Native Vegetation Precinct Plan mechanism for identifying and applying methods to protect native vegetation within an urban growth corridor.”
The Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning urged residents to be vigilant and slow down on roads where native wildlife may be moving.
Mr Lehmann said across all levels of politics and all facets of society, more must be done.
“They just don’t care,” he said.
“We need the government to care and we need people to tell government that the public cares so they act.”
Mr Lehmann said those looking to make a difference should contact politicians to demand change and donate to Kangaloola’s annual Christmas fund.
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