Citizen scientists needed for wildlife safety investigation
LOCAL wildlife and conservation organisation Wildlife Projects 3228 is seeking citizen scientists to collect wildlife collision data along Messmate Road in Torquay North.
The group’s recent callout comes in the hope of reducing the speed limit on Messmate Road from 80kmh to 60kmh as nearby developments put a squeeze on the “wildlife sensitive” area; a proposal originally presented to the Surf Coast Shire in November 2019.
“Last week, the paddocks along Messmate Road, which kangaroos use as movement corridors, are being bulldozed for development,” organisation admin and rescuer Victoria Rippon said.
“For the safety of wildlife and motorists, Messmate Road needs to be reduced to 60kmh.”
At the council’s May meeting, officers submitted a report stating a reduction to 60kmh was not required.
One of the reasons cited was there had been no recorded accidents on the road over the past two years.
Cr Heather Wellington successfully moved a motion requesting the chief executive officer provide a report to the council in two years with a traffic assessment and levels of destruction of animals, particularly native animals, for Messmate Road.
“[As a result] the Wildlife Vehicle Collisions Barwon Region app was created to document wildlife roadkill hot spots in the region,” Ms Rippon said.
“This information can be used to help advocate for solutions such as speed reductions and monitor their effectiveness.”
The app uses Epicollect5, a world-class free mobile data-gathering platform/app developed by Imperial College London.
Each log submitted by citizen scientists contains information such as the time, date, location, status of animal, species, a photo upon arrival and more.
Local Surf Coast residents are being urged to participate where they can.
“Citizen Science data collection is low cost and enables public participation. This creates a transparent process which promotes equitable access to information,” Ms Rippon said.
“The app has been set to public so the community can view the data.
“The more people who can jump on the app and participate, the better; this helps to maintain the integrity of the data collection.
“Citizen science data collection apps are really useful tools.”
Messmate Road forms part of the border around Grasstree Park Nature Reserve, a busy meeting place for native wildlife.
The reserve is an important wildlife conservation area and has a Victorian Trust for Nature conservation covenant.
Another area of land at 120 Messmate Road is already earmarked for development and is anticipated to put more strain on travelling wildlife in and around Torquay.
To get involved, head to the Wildlife Projects 3228 Facebook page for more information.