An endangered coastal emu (Dromaius novaehollandiae) has been killed by a vehicle this week on the Clarence floodplain, weeks after a group of passionate residents had highlighted the need for lower speed limits in areas of concern.
The emu was crossing the road, which is a known blackspot for emus, when it was hit by a motorbike overtaking a vehicle that was travelling at the marked speed limit of 100 km/h.
The small population of coastal emus are listed as endangered under the NSW Biodiversity Conservation Act 2016, with fewer than 100 individuals known to remain on the east coast. Their range extends from Woolgoolga to Evans Head along the northern New South Wales coast and inland to Myrtle Creek and surrounds, while the main strongholds remain near Yuraygir National Park and Bungawalbin National Park.
They move large distances to forage, often crossing roads in their travels where they become at risk of vehicle strike. Being flightless, fencing can impact their ability to cross roads safely. Other threats to their survival include habitat loss, feral pests, and degradation of coastal ecosystems by weeds and wildfire. WIRES wildlife rescue data shows that 73 endangered coastal emus were killed by vehicles between 2000 and 2018.
Clarence Valley Council is calling for lower speed limits along commonly traversed roads, especially during breeding periods, as is the case now. There are currently male emus caring for young chicks and their parental duties can slow down their road crossings considerably.
In addition, there is increased traffic in the region with school holidays in effect and Clarence Valley Council ask local residents and holiday-makers to slow down on the roads. Be mindful of emus when travelling in vegetated areas and slow down accordingly. It’s only with the help of motorists that we can hope to reduce unnecessary deaths of this iconic emu population.