In April this year bird deterrents were installed on the Bribie Island Bridge, as of the writing of this article the deterrents remain in place and an alternative roost option has not been installed.
The loss of the pelicans roosting on the lamp posts has been felt across the Bribie Community, with 1,000 people marching across the bridge in protest and 2,000 people contributing signatures to state member Simone Wilson MP’s petition to return the pelican’s roosts.
Bribie Island Bridge’s roosting pelicans are considered by many to be the island’s mascot and hold a special place in the heart of the community. But as of yet, no solution has been settled on for the return of the pelicans to the bridge.
Simone Wilson MP has continuously been fighting for the return of the pelicans, participating in the march across the bridge and keeping residents updated via her Facebook page.
“Most members of the community have a personal connection to the pelicans as do I. As a long-time local, my children learnt how to count from a young age thanks to the pelicans as we crossed the bridge. It’s a counting game I know a lot of parents use with their kids and I cannot think of a more delightful way to learn this skill. I have been approached by people in the UK and even those holidaying in Thailand about the importance of our pelican mascots to our community.” Simone Wilson MP said on her connection to the pelicans.
When asked to comment on the current situation Simone Wilson MP said “My community is still waiting for the Government to act on its promise to install alternative roosting perches for the pelicans. This entire debacle has taken far too long to rectify and has been to the detriment of the pelicans who have roosted safely on the Bridge for decades. It’s disappointing that despite 1,000 people marching across the bridge in protest and 2,000 odd signatures on a petition to return the pelican’s roosts, and despite my continued representations, Minister Mark Bailey has not once bothered to pick up the phone to inform me on what he intends to do.”
Following up with the Department of Transport and Main Roads (TMR), their Spokesperson has said the following on the current situation “We understand the Bribie Island community cares about the pelicans and we are investigating alternative options for pelicans to roost on Bribie Island Bridge. The investigation is considering environmental and road safety factors, as well as potential costs… The investigation was expected to be completed by the end of May (2019).”
What has taken most of the community by shock is that these deterrents seemed to be installed overnight and there was no consultation with the local community.
On this matter, the TMR Spokesperson said “We upgraded the lighting to LED to significantly improve energy efficiency and reduce electricity consumption. The switch to more efficient lighting will improve visibility on the road, reduce light pollution and costs as well as make savings on electricity consumption. Part of the upgrade involved installing bars to prevent the pelicans from sitting atop the lights. Pelican waste dropping onto the lights can cause the lights to fail, requiring more frequent maintenance, including higher costs and having to close lanes to replace damaged lights more often. Lighting replacement is part of routine operations, for which community engagement is not undertaken.”
Hopefully with the TMR investigation finishing it will not take much longer for a suitable roosting option to be installed and the pelicans to return.
For the Moreton Bay Region, this isn’t the first time bird deterrents have upset pelican roosting habits. Redcliffe’s Woody Point Jetty had deterrents installed in 2014 much to the local community’s chagrin and certain light poles on the Hornibrook Bridge also had deterrents installed—though notably not all the light poles so pelicans were still able to roost along parts of the bridge.
Moreton Bay Council declined to comment on the situation at this current stage, as it is a matter for TMR.
The Local Island and Surrounds News will continue to follow up on the pelicans; we will have another update next issue.