A new rail line and two school developments have trapped about 100 kangaroos in Melbourne’s north-east.
The kangaroos, from three mobs at Mernda and Doreen, have been blocked from their habitat at Plenty Gorge Park due to construction of the new Mernda rail extension and two schools.
“The construction in the area has left the kangaroos trapped, with no access to the Gorge and no water unless it rains,” ecologist Shai Ager, who started a petition to the state government, told AAP on Monday.
“Kangaroos can last a while without water, but if they stay there, they could die within a couple of months, especially if an alpha male dies. We could see seven to 11 females without protection.”
Ms Ager has called on the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning to relocate the kangaroos to their habitat “just 20 minutes down the road”.
Her change.org petition, which says the kangaroos are also in danger of being killed or seriously injured in car accidents, has garnered more than 9000 signatures in less than a week.
DELWP regional director Kelly Crosthwaite said the authority was working to keep the kangaroos safe.
“[We] will continue to work with Parks Victoria, the Level Crossing Removal Authority and the community to ensure the best and safest outcome for the kangaroos,” she said in a statement to The New Daily.
A department spokesperson said wildlife officers have checked on the welfare of the kangaroos, which were in good health.
The spokesperson said the animals had access to food and water.
The Level Crossing Removal Authority has a Kangaroo Management Plan in place and is actively monitoring their wellbeing.
Construction gates are being left open over the weekend to allow the kangaroos to travel to their habitat by themselves, which is considered a a safer method.
The finished railway line will be elevated and allow the kangaroos free passage.
Environment Minister Lily D’Ambrosio echoed those points in a letter to the local paper.
“But I’d like to assure those in the community concerned about the animals welfare that my department is doing everything it can to help return these kangaroos safely and as soon as possible,” Ms D’Ambrosio said.
Ms Ager labelled it a “poor effort”.
“It’s not at all realistic to think all individuals from all three mobs are going to happily wait until the weekends, find the small gate opening and hop across roads to get back to Plenty Gorge,” she said.
“DELWP just needs to step up, take responsibility, listen to the 10,000 people who support this relocation and get the job done.”
Whittlesea Councillor Tom Joseph claimed the kangaroos were “starving and dying of thirst” at a council meeting last Tuesday.
Council officers had earlier written to the Level Crossing Removal Authority and DELWP to request the kangaroo management plan be reviewed.
“The response from the level crossing removal authority, received by Council on 20 March 2018 advised that they had considered the request but at this time felt there was no requirement to review the kangaroo management plan,” the director of City Transport and Presentation said at last week’s meeting, according to council minutes.
RSPCA Victoria confirmed it was aware of “community concerns” for the kangaroos.