PEOPLE driving on Phillip Island between now and early-May are urged to be on the lookout for Short-tailed Shearwater chicks on the island’s roads.
Regional Roads Victoria (RRV) and Phillip Island Nature Parks are teaming up again this year to implement a range of initiatives to reduce bird deaths as thousands of chicks attempt to start their 16,000-kilometre migration to Alaska.
Oblivious of the travel restrictions gripping the world, there’s no stopping these amazing creatures of habit and endurance… at least they’ll have clear skies!
While the clear advice to Victorians is to stay home to slow the spread of coronavirus, there are still people on Gippsland roads who need to make essential journeys – particularly those who are critical to our community right now such as healthcare workers, or people working at supermarkets and pharmacies.
RRV Director (Eastern) Sara Rhodes-Ward said the young birds are learning to fly and sometimes end up on the island’s roads, which can create hazardous conditions for both the chicks and for people who suddenly brake or swerve to miss them.
“Going into the annual Shearwater migration season, we implement road safety measures like reducing the speed limit on roads in Shearwater hotspots to 40km/h, placing warning billboards on roadsides,” Ms Rhodes-Ward said.
“We also work with SP Ausnet to turn off the streetlights on the Phillip Island Bridge, so the birds aren’t drawn towards the lights – ending up on the road across the bridge.
“Drivers can also do their part by reducing their speed, scanning the road and roadsides for birds and being alert when travelling around the island over the coming weeks.”
Dr Duncan Sutherland from Phillip Island Nature Parks said Short-tailed Shearwaters are seabirds that undertake a spectacular trans-equatorial migration from the Bering Sea near Alaska, down to Phillip Island to breed, then back again each year.
More than one million Short-tailed Shearwaters come to Phillip Island to nest in the sand dunes and produce a single chick,” Dr Sutherland said.
“We can all help to ensure as many of these chicks make a successful departure from Phillip Island as possible” he added.
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.