More than one million Short-tailed Shearwaters call Phillip Island home, and from mid-April to early May, the newest additions to the colony are at risk of being injured or killed on the island’s roads when they attempt to fly for the first time and start their 16,000 kilometre journey back to Alaska.
Acting Regional Director (Eastern) Pas Monacella said RRV was again teaming up with Phillip Island Nature Parks to create safer road conditions and reduce the fatality rate of Short-tailed Shearwaters during this year’s migration season.
“Learning to fly can be a tough gig and the chicks are often not successful on their first attempt, ending up on our roads. This can create hazardous conditions, not only for the Short-tailed Shearwaters, but for people who suddenly brake or swerve to miss the birds,” Mr Monacella said.
“This is the second year we’re working in partnership with Phillip Island Nature Parks on measures like setting the speed limit on roads in Shearwater hotspots at 40km/h and placing billboards on roadsides to alert drivers to the fact that birds may be on the roads.
“Together with Phillip Island Nature Parks, we work with SP Ausnet to turn off the street lighting on the Phillip Island Bridge so the chicks do not fly towards the light and end up on the main road linking the mainland to the island.
“The aim is to raise even more awareness about the Short-tailed Shearwater migration season this year. We are urging all locals and visitors to the island to reduce their speed, scan the road and roadsides for birds and be alert when travelling around the island over the coming weeks.”
Roland Pick from Phillip Island Nature Parks hailed last year’s partnership with Regional Roads Victoria as a great success.
“Thanks to the range of measures put in place including reducing speed limits in hotspots, alerting drivers to the presence of birds on the roads and some favourable winds, we experienced more than a 70 per cent reduction in birds killed last year and we really hope to keep this momentum going,” Mr Pick said.
For more information about the Short-tailed Shearwater migration season, head to penguins.org.au and search for ‘shearwater’.
Injured wildlife can be reported to Wildlife Victoria on (03) 8400 7300.
Dead animals on Phillip Island roadsides can be reported to Regional Roads Victoria on 131 RRV.