‘They’re not what you call traffic savvy’

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As if duck-shooting season was not enough, some feathered friends in Portobello are waddling into more trouble, because they are not “road savvy”.

Beaconsfield Rd resident Lynn Taylor often sees ducks being run over when they walk across the road to the harbour.

It started when she and her husband took care of ducklings after their mother was run over.

“What’s happened now is that they have brought back all their friends,” Mrs Taylor said.

“Some days there will be almost 40 to 50 that come to our place and they try to steal the chickens’ food.

“Just a little bit further [down the road] there’s paradise ducks and they raise families and every year the whole of the family gets wiped out by the cars and that’s really distressing.”

She had contacted the Dunedin City Council about getting warning signs installed but was told it was not its policy to help with that.

Otago Peninsula Community Board chairman Paul Pope said it was common for ducks to be run over because they would often sit on the side of the road and were not very “road savvy”.

“It would be nice if people were just a little bit more patient and then we would not have scenes of avian carnage on the sides of the road.

“It’s just a matter of asking people to be patient and show a little bit of concern for animals on the road.”

Although it was not always safe to stop for animals, common sense and humanity would go a long way, he said.

He would raise the issue of signs at the next community board meeting.

Penguin Cafe Portobello owner Peter Simkins said he often saw ducks attempting to cross busy roads.

“I frequently have to come round the corner and slow down and let the ducks walk across the road.”

Portobello Senior Constable Lox Kellas said an increasing number of ducks were nesting in the grass on the side of the road or by the harbour.

“Over the years when they lay their eggs and waddle across the road – they’re not what you call traffic-savvy – they get skittled.”

If would be unsafe for people to swerve to avoid hitting a duck, especially if there was oncoming traffic, he said.

Dunedin City Council group manager transport Richard Saunders said the issue had been raised by the Otago Peninsula Community Board and staff would discuss options.

Staff were also taking advice from the Department of Conservation, he said.

Doc ranger Shay van der Hurksaid it was difficult to stop the ducks from resting on the roadside and the best thing motorists could do was to look out for them.

“It’s really great that these species are around in Dunedin.

“We are the wildlife capital of New Zealand so that’s a pretty big part of our identity.”

He asked motorists to give wildlife space whenever they could and to call 0800 362 468 if they saw an injured native animal.