Driving assessment

WA’s Cable Beach turtle nests are ‘drove in’, prompting calls to cut opening hours

Broome County is considering extending its Cable Beach tourist card closure to cars to protect turtle hatchlings.

It’s part of a long-running debate in the city, with locals and visitors flocking to Western Australia’s longest beach to take advantage of the region’s end to the dry season.

The beach is also home to endangered Flatback turtles that migrate to the world famous beach to nest in its sand dunes during the rainy season.

But a report from earlier this year found there were good reasons to close vehicle access to the beach to protect newborns. He found three cases where cars had run over nests and 12 cases where people had to move newborn babies out of tire ruts.

He also reported finding 15 newborn babies dead.

The council is considering whether to reinstate the 2010 rules, which saw the main access point to the northern part of the beach closed from 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. daily from October to March.

Cable Beach is a popular four-wheeling location.(ABC News: Erin Parke)

The rules under debate will see the ramp closed at all times from December 1 to January 31, in addition to the restrictions already in place.

Last month, the county postponed a decision on the proposed rules, saying it had not been properly briefed on the evidence.

At a council meeting on Thursday, the council voted to begin a 28-day public comment period on the proposed multi-month shutdown.

Reports highlight risks

The decision comes nearly a year after the Yawuru Park Council (YPC) recommended the closure to protect turtles that nest on the beach.

The YPC comprises Nyamba Buru Yawuru, Broome County and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).

The council rejected the proposed changes in 2021, with county documents noting that “further assessment” was needed.

Juvenile flatback turtle
Cable Beach turtle hatchlings are affected by tire ruts left by drivers.(Provided: Parks and Wildlife)

After a further round of surveys during the 2021/2022 nesting season, the latest YPC report reiterated the recommendations and was unequivocal:

“Vehicles impact turtles through interactions with nesting sites [driving over nests] and tire ruts impacted newborns,” he said.

Public consultation begins

Shire vice-chairman Desiree Male said she would release the proposal to gauge support before the next board meeting next month.

“We have received advice from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions that there are significant hatchlings during this time and they are affected by tire ruts,” she said. declared.

Broome Shire Councilor Desiree Male, May 2022.
Broome Shire Councilor Desiree Male.(ABC Kimberley: Jessica Hayes)

Ms Male said it was not a decision any council would make without public input.

“We’re going to reach out through different media and advertising revenue and, as you know, the public will get a chance,” she said.

“We would like them to [residents] to respond and let us know what they think so we can have clear direction when it comes down to the board.”