A self-described “council troublemaker” was threatened with a $1000 fine after a 20-minute stoush with council last week regarding the plight of native turtles.
Cannington resident Paul Augustson and Warren Hill have raised concerns over development on Sevenoaks Street and how it is adversely affecting local oblong turtle populations.
The pair said they have addressed the issue at council multiple times.
The Canning City Council’s ordinary council meeting on Tuesday May 15 saw a heated exchange between Mr Hill and mayor Paul Ng, after the former was rebuked for speaking out of order.
Mr Hill was threatened with a $1000 fine after Canning Environment director Warren Bow responded to a previous public members’ question on the Sevenoaks Development by stating the City had, ‘not had any other reports of turtles in that area’.
Mr Hill was threatened with the fine after approaching council with a letter signed by Mr Augustson, which he said had been previously provided to council.
“They know what’s going on, they just don’t want to address it,” Mr Hill said.
“They’re used to be pipes that ran all the way behind Sevenoaks Street, under the rail and roads and out near Welshpool road.
“The turtles used to be able to get to the Kewdale Rail Yards and out towards the Anvil Way Conservation Area, but now with the roadworks here their habitat and migration area has been cut off, bit by bit.”
The City of Canning’s director of environment Warren Bow said the council was aware of the migratory patterns of turtles in the area, but said the roadworks were a city priority.
“The Sevenoaks Street project is a key transport project to relieve some of the traffic congestion off Albany Highway and to provide alternative access into the Canning city centre in the future,” Mr Bow said.
“You are right in that there are no signs or limitation devices on Sevenoaks Street that warn people of the existence of turtles.
“In relation to a proposal to create another crossing using pipes beneath both the rail and road corridor, the extent of that pipework would necessarily go over 200 metres.
“There’s no guarantee that the turtles would use that as a crossing point.”
Turtle Oblonga Rescue and Rehabilitation Network (TORRN) officer Tanya Marwood said the area around Sevenoaks Street was a long-standing habitat for oblong turtles.
“The whole are was low-lying swamp before colonization, so it’s easy to see why there are turtles there,” she said.
“There’s a whole lot of drains and other bodies of water in the area that the turtles will regularly use.
“But obviously there’s issues with development. Any amount of obstruction that’s placed in their way clearly makes it harder and harder for them to get where they’re going.”
Ms Marwood said the turtle’s migration patterns were likely leading them onto roads.
“Turtles very rarely stray form their path, especially pregnant females, so a wall won’t stop them,” she said.
“They’ll find an other way around, which is probably why they’re showing up on roads.”
Ms Marwood said turtles are more likely to be seen from September to October, and during hatching, which occurs until July.
She also advised anyone who sees a turtle on a road to contact TORRN – go to turtleoblonganetwork.org.au for more information.