THE winner of Port Macquarie-Hastings Council's road strike electronic signage competition has one clear message to local motorists - slow down and stop squashing koalas.
Nine-year-old Araminta Walker of Laurieton flicked the switch on her winning sign today (August 24). Her 'slow down' message to keep koalas safe can be seen on the Oxley highway near the Clifton Drive roundabout and south on Ocean Drive.
The St Josephs Primary School year 4 student was inspired by the impact of the summer bushfires on the region's koala population.
"In the bushfires we had to evacuate, but the koalas couldn't evacuate," Araminta explained.
"I thought about what I could do to help our koalas become less extinct.
"When I entered this competition I thought about what happens to koalas when they get hit by a car - they get squashed.
"And what rhymes with crossing - squashing."
As the winner of the competition, Araminta receives an adoption certificate from the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital for one of their resident animals Lismore Rose.
Scott Castle, assistant clinical director at the Koala Hospital, presented Araminta with her certificate.
"Obviously our objective is to increase public awareness that koalas are more active during breeding season; and to watch out for them on the roads," Mr Castle said.
Lismore Rose was a young abandoned koala admitted into care with the Lismore Friends of the Koala.
She was later transferred to Currumbin Wildlife Hospital on November 7, 2018 weighing around 550 grams.
Rose presented to the hospital underweight, anaemic, and with poor kidney function. With good treatment Rose responded, and gained weight. Staff also felt Rose was developmentally delayed.
"Because of her behavioural impairment and ongoing renal issues, Rose was not considered a good candidate for release," Mr Castle said.
Lismore Rose is now in permanent care here at the Port Macquarie Koala Hospital and will have ongoing monitoring of her health and behaviour with five star care from volunteers.
Gordon Street, between Widderson Street and Findlay Avenue, and Ocean Drive near the golf course are koala road strike black spots.
Motorists are urged people to think about their personal responsibility when it comes to protecting our koala population.
Steps can be as simple as slowing down while driving to minimise koala road strike, being a responsible dog owner or planting a koala food tree.
The council adopted a Koala Recovery Strategy in 2018 in the face of a declining koala population in the local government area.
Threats facing the koala population including road strike, dog attacks, bushfires and clearing of habitat.
Recent bushfires took a toll on koala populations including those in the Hastings.
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