Ground-breaking koala safety shields are being trialled before being installed on the M1 motorway in an innovative collaboration between the Department of Environment and Science (DES) and the Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Koala shields, metal guards affixed to posts along the M1 motorway between Brisbane and the Gold Coast, will prevent the claws of koalas and other nocturnal wildlife from getting a grip on the poles.
The shields are being tested at DES’s wildlife facility, David Fleay Wildlife Park, where they were installed onto structures within the koala enclosure, similar to the pylons along the M1.
Video cameras were installed to monitor the koalas’ efforts.
Minister for the Environment and Science Meghan Scanlon congratulated the teams from both departments who conducted the trial.
“The koala is an iconic native animal that is very territorial – a motorway filled with thousands of speeding cars will not deter a koala determined to get to the other side,” Minister Scanlon said.
“This trial has delivered very promising results. Not a single koala was able to climb past the shields and in a bonus result, a possum also tried and was unsuccessful.”
The trial also enabled the teams to make informed decisions about the size of the shields and the best placement of them on the pylon.
While the DES team provided the testing site and the koalas, along with koala expertise, the TMR team provided the shields, and construction and materials support.
The next step is for shields to be installed on sections of noise barriers on the M1 Motorway.
“This has been a wonderful example of what can be achieved when very different teams come together and bring their unique knowledge and experiences to the project,” Ms Scanlon said.
“This work, and the work going forward to get these shields operational, will help thousands of koalas in southeast Queensland.
“Beyond that, who knows, there may be adaptive uses that see this technology exported to other jurisdictions.”
Shields will be installed in a section near Oyster Creek Drive and also on noise barriers between 19th Avenue and the Pine Shopping Centre on the western side of the motorway, which, according to data from the past 10 years, is where most of the koalas have accessed the motorway.
Note: Night vision recorded at David Fleay Wildlife Park available.