Development killing roos

A Kangaroo being released to her home range, which is still close to train lines and infrastructure (supplied).

Zoe Moffatt

Macedon Ranges Wildlife Network volunteers have called on council and developers to take native wildlife into account when building estates, amid increasing reports of dead and injured kangaroos.

Woodend resident Karl Dawson is part of a small group of volunteer rescuers and carers throughout and surrounding the Macedon Ranges.

He used to live in Sunbury and said many Macedon Ranges towns are now experincing the same residential and commercial development as Sunbury, which is displacing native wildlife.

“I watched over the years as developers started and you could see there wasn’t planning for the movements of wildlife,” Mr Dawson said.

“You end up with the situation where you have new estates built that kangaroos previously had as their home, they then try to cross busy roads and end up getting hit.

“It’s not that there’s been a large increase, they are just now finding themselves in estates that used to be their home.

“That was back in Sunbury, it’s now in Woodend, Gisborne, New Gisborne [and] Romsey.”

Wildlife Victoria said it has recorded a 30 per cent increase in kangaroo cases reported to its Emergency Response Service since 2021 in the Macedon Ranges.

“At least 50 per cent of all kangaroo cases reported in the past three years were the result of vehicle collisions,” the spokesperson said.

“Wildlife Victoria has been working with Macedon Ranges council as part of a Road Toll Reduction Pilot Project since mid-year and will be involved in a council-led community forum on the issue in 2024.”

Mr Dawson said the Gisborne area is one of the major hotspots at the moment based on the calls to Wildlife Victoria, and he would like to see more action from council and Macedon MP Mary-Anne Thomas.

“I would think it’s probably a council problem, and something that Mary-Anne should instruct developers and council on,” he said.

“The developers need to be instructed and lead on how they should accommodate our native wildlife. [We] would like to see councils plan for wildlife corridors.

“We’ve seen kangaroos break jaws and legs by trying to go through fences… especially if they get spooked by cars, dogs or people. We get a lot of dog attacks as well.

“It’s the volunteers that are now having to try and go and take care of it… We’re trying to do this in our spare time as most of us also have full time jobs.”

Council director planning and environment Rebecca Stockfeld said council aims to help protect biodiversity through planning processes and long-term township strategies.

“While also balancing the needs of a growing population and new infrastructure,” Ms Stockfeld said.

“For example, the draft Gisborne Structure Plan… contains a section on environmental values, outlining a number of clear objectives and suggested actions, such as ‘considering the need for wildlife corridors and fencing controls, and the preparation of Kangaroo Management Plans or wildlife salvage operations as necessary’ as part of new developments.”

Under the Wildlife Act 1975 and the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986, it is the responsibility of landowners and managers to protect any wildlife on their property when undertaking development work.

A state government spokesperson said wildlife welfare will continue to be a priority.

“Over the next four years we will invest $7.2 million towards wildlife welfare so that our sick, injured and orphaned animals are cared for,” the spokesperson said.

“The welfare of our wildlife will continue to be a priority as we support programs that deliver scenario testing and emergency response plans.”

Multiple developers in the Macedon Ranges were connected but did not comment by deadline.