The volunteer preservation group Port Stephens Koalas has taken delivery of a mobile roadside warning sign to place at different sites when the marsupials are at their most active.
The ‘slow down’ message is activated when vehicles approach at more than 40kmh and will be positioned at Port Stephens Drive from Thursday afternoon.
“The sign will be displayed at each site for three to four weeks at a time,” Port Stephens Koalas secretary Ron Land said.
“Initiatives like this are vital. Everyone of the koalas we save helps us stop the slide so we can begin to rebuild the population.”
The sign, valued at $16,500, is the product of a new partnership between Port Stephens Koalas and Newcastle Airport, with in-kind support from the manufacturer Hi-Vis Group.
Newcastle Airport CEO Peter Cock said he was pleased to partner with PSK in a worthy cause.
“It’s really important that this airport can support the people who surround it and in this case support Port Stephens Koalas which operates on a shoestring budget,” he said.
“We had a meeting with Ron and saw the kind of work the volunteers do and it is really impressive work.”
PSK was the recent recipient of a $3 million tourism grant from the state government to build a koala sanctuary at One Mile to assist with the rehabilitation of injured koalas.
“We still have to raise enough money each year to meet our operational costs, the $3 million doesn’t help with that so donations like this sign really help,” Mr Land said.
Delivery of the sign coincided with the injury of another koala on the Port’s roads.
The koala’s broken jaw and various other fractures is expected to cost $5000 even with the donation of time from the vets.
PSK president Carmel Northwood said there was now as few as 200 wild koalas left in Port Stephens.
“We used to treat 160 koalas a year and that number is down to 60, which goes to show the population is in decline,” she said.
“Road trauma remains a major cause and it’s the one area we can address. Having this sign will help people slow down at those hot spots particularly in the breeding season when the koalas are more active.”
Thirty koalas died on the Tomaree and Tilligerry peninsulas in 2016-17. PSK expects to treat 50 koalas in 2018.