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Koala mortality on roads in south-east Queensland: the koala speed-zone trial


David S. DiqueA'D, Jim ThompsonA, Harriet I PreeceA, Guy C. PenfoldA, Deidre L. de VilliersC and Ros S. LeslieA


AQueensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 64, Bellbowrie, Qld 4070, Australia.
BQueensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 155, Brisbane Albert Street, Qld 4002, Australia.
cQueensland Parks and Wildlife Service, PO Box 5116, Daisy Hill, Qld 4127, Australia.
DTo whom correspondence should be addressed. Email:


ABSTRACT

In 1995, the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, the Queensland Department of Main Roads and Redland Shire Council initiated the Koala Speed Zone Trial in the Koala Coast, south-east Queensland. The aim of the trial was to assess the effect of differential speed signs on the number of koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) hit by vehicles in the Koala Coast from 1995 to 1999. On the basis of information collected by the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service 1407 koalas were hit by vehicles in the Koala Coast during the five-year study (mean 281 koalas per year, range 251-315). Monitoring of vehicle speeds by the Queensland Department of Main Roads suggested that there was no significant reduction in vehicle speed during the trial period from August to December. Consequently, there was no evidence to suggest that a reduction in the number of koalas hit by vehicles occurred during the trial. Approximately 70% of koalas were hit on arterial and sub-arterial roads and approximately 83% did not survive. The location of each koala hit was recorded and the signed speed limit of the road was noted. Most koalas that were hit by vehicles were young healthy males. Pooling of data on koala collisions and road speed limits suggested that the proportion of koalas that survived being hit by vehicles was slightly higher on roads with lower speed limits. However, vehicle speed was not the only factor that affected the number of koalas hit by vehicles. It is suggested that habitat destruction, koala density and traffic volume also contribute to road-associated koala mortality in the Koala Coast.