Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Koala bridge over new irrigation channels

Koalas have their own bridge over an irrigation channel to reduce the risk of drowning.

January 10, 2013 4:03am

The bridge built across an irrigation channel for Koalas.

Goulburn-Murray Water has installed a koala bridge across a plastic-lined channel so the marsupials don’t drown when trying to get across the recently renovated waterway.

A bridge made from treated pine logs was installed in the Mywee area (near Strathmerton) following complaints koalas had drowned when unable to escape the lined channels.

G-MW said the initial response to the bridge — which was installed after advice from an independent consultant — was positive and the corporation would release results over the coming months.

Federal Member for Murray Sharman Stone said she had received dozens of complaints about the bridge.

‘‘So what do you do when hundreds of koalas have fallen in and drowned in plastic-lined irrigation channels?’’ Dr Stone asked.

‘‘Well, you build a koala pole bridge apparently.

‘‘Our koalas will certainly need to be clear thinking and clever to climb up the poles, avoid the wrong turn at the top and the pointy bits, before working their way to the other side,’’ she said.

‘‘To encourage koalas to use the bridge, trees and limbs nearby or overhanging the plastic-lined channels in known koala areas are being trimmed or cut down.’’

G-MW has already installed kilometres of plastic lining on remediated channels, to stop leakage. Where the lined channels pass houses, netting has been used on the new fencing.

Connections manager George Warne said G-MW would continue to monitor the bridge as a crossing point for koalas and if it proved to be an effective means of minimising fauna deaths then the construction of more sites adjacent to forested areas would be considered.

G-MW was advised by the independent consultant that fencing was the least effective option and it was therefore recommended that a bridge over a channel pool in Mywee was the most effective means of minimising or eliminating drowning deaths in the vicinity of plastic-lined channels.

‘‘G-MW will continue to work with locally based experts to minimise the harm to native animals,’’ Mr Warne said.

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