AUSTRALIAN LAND TRUST NEWS
Strathfieldsaye Estate is putting out the welcome mat to members of Gippsland’s resident wombat population with a series of gates along the property’s fence line.
The estate’s ecologist, Madeline Watts, said thought wombats are welcome on the property, the holes they dig under the fence are also used by kangaroos whose significant numbers lay waste to the property’s grass.
The estate installed a 15km fence to manage the kangaroo population in late 2016 and early 2017. So far, more than 1,000 kangaroos have been driven off the property. “The gates are designed to allow wombats to move between Strathfieldsaye and surrounding land,” Madeline says “It is far better, both from a wildlife movement perspective and to minimise labour required to fix breaches, to allow the wombats to follow their paths. The gates are relatively heavy and, being determined, wombats don't mind pushing up against them to go through. “Kangaroos on the other hand don't like being in confined spaces and struggle to move their longer bodies and legs through the gates, and therefore don't go through them. “So the gates stop the roos, but keep the wombats happy. We are monitoring their use with remote cameras, and have not recorded any kangaroo breaches yet, which is great.”
Madeline has so far built and installed 10 gates, but reckons up to 30 will be needed. The gates are inexpensive made of bent and broken star posts for the frame and rio-type mesh for the gates.
“They were a little time consuming to make at first, but once we worked out the design it was much quicker. It is also so much more efficient than filling in their diggings every day.”
Madeline said that she came across the design for the gates on the respective websites of the Tasmanian and Victorian primary industries/land management departments and adapted their designs to suit Strathfieldsaye Estate. “Our first design worked but wasn't robust enough, so needed a few changes,” she says. She has her work cut out for her, making and installing the other 20 gates along the fence.
The property’s kangaroo fence, installed by Hillside Rural in nearby Lindenow South, is an impressive feat of engineering. The materials used to build it weighed 42 tonnes. It includes 3,000 Waratah star posts. “More than 16,000 clips were used to attach the wire to the fence.”