Little did Christine Pitcher know her complimentary comment about a local government area’s initiative was the good news Australians craved after such devastation to wildlife caused by the recent national bushfires.
Her Facebook post recognised and praised Sunshine Coast Council’s work on a trial project that aims at helping wildlife safely cross busy roads.
The virtual fauna fencing project uses green fence posts, created by New South Wales-based company, Wildlife Safety Solutions, and was first introduced by council in August 2018 at Sippy Downs Dr in partnership with the University of the Sunshine Coast, and then most recently at Nojoor Rd in Mudjimba.
Ms Pitcher, a resident of Mudjimba, said her social media post has seemingly gone viral in Australia, and even reached New Zealand audiences, tallying up more than 19,000 likes and 21,000 shares.
“It’s the most popular post I’ve ever had, and I had no idea it would have such an effect,” Ms Pitcher said.
“I just thought it’d get a few comments from friends, but it’s been amazing to see how it’s resonated with people.
“After the recent droughts and fires, people know that our wildlife is suffering, so this type of initiative is what people want to hear about.”
Ms Pitcher regularly walks her dog along Nojoor Rd and has been frustrated by the amount of wildlife killed by speeding vehicles.
“My neighbour and I both contacted council asking that more speed limit signs be installed along our road,” Ms Pitcher continued.
“Our road is really long and straight, so people use it as a speedway.
“Council responded saying they were going to come out and have a look, and after they came to check it out, more signs were installed, and we had the bonus of this special fencing installed to help the wildlife.
“When these green posts first went up, one of my neighbours went out at night to shine a torch on it and see how they actually worked.
“I walked my dog down the road one night, and I could hear the posts working; it even stopped my dog in his tracks, so I believe the system is working.
“We haven’t had any dead wildlife since they went up.”
In the two weeks following Ms Pitcher’s wildly popular Facebook post, council received dozens of enquiries from individuals, community groups, media and other local councils asking for more information about the virtual fauna fencing.
Natural Areas Conservation Officer Tyron de Kauwe, who recently did an interview with a media outlet in Adelaide on the subject, has been a fierce advocate of this wildlife protecting technology, sharing his knowledge wherever possible.
“This project had just started when I joined council in late 2018, but as I started to learn more about the technology and research, my enthusiasm grew,” Mr de Kauwe said.
“Our partnership with USC has been wonderful, and we’re so grateful to the fantastic work that Dr Beth Brunton and her team are doing in researching kangaroo population movements.
“With the second virtual fence installed in Mudjimba, we’re looking at roadkill rates before and after; this will help us determine the success of our trials.
“The outcomes from these two sites, and any other future trial locations implemented, will inform the development of council’s Kangaroo Conservation Plan as well as identification of further sites for this type of technology.
“While no two roads are the same, and the success of the fencing is dependent upon many variables, we are taking in as much information as possible to determine the best locations for this type of technology.”
This trial is part of a wide range of proactive measures council is implementing to protect our region’s natural environment. Please visit www.sunshinecoast.qld.gov.au and search ‘Conservation success stories’ for more details.