Frozen koalas may be thrown at rally cars
Police say dead koalas and other frozen road kill may be used to disrupt the Australian leg of the Repco World Rally Championship in the Tweed Valley tomorrow.
Head of the Tweed-Byron police, Superintendent Michael Kenny, told local media protest groups rallying against the racing event would be watched closely after rumours began circulating about the use of dead animals, the lighting of fires and people laying across the track.
"Some of the bizarre things are that there is road kill been put in freezers that is going to be thrown on to the road during the event," Superintendent Kenny said yesterday.
"That's a rumour at best but I'm saying there are a lot of stories going around about this sort of madness that may or may not occur."
Protest groups No Rally and Kyogle-based 7th Generation oppose the rally on environmental grounds, claiming it will frighten off wildlife and disrupt the areas breeding season.
They are also angry at legislative changes passed by the New South Wales Government to lock in the event for the next 20 years.
No Rally has so far collected 705 signatures on an online petition.
Repco Rally Australian chairman Garry Connelly told The Northern Star event organisers were undeterred by the roadkill threat and would employ a "unique" road tracking system that could detect if any animals had been run over by rally cars.
"Other rallies have had threats from time to time, but I don't think they've ever had the threat of a frozen koala being thrown on a road before. That is really bizarre, but you have to expect the unexpected," he said.
"That sort of thing will be easily detected. We have put in place a unique technology for the World Championship, in fact for motor sport - a unique road tracking system in relation to wildlife that may be injured during the event and we will have a very solid and conclusive, proven method of determining any road kill or any animal that is injured and we will be recording that and that will be in our report."
Superintendent Kenny said placing anything on the track or lighting fires to obscure the drivers' view would put lives at risk. The Riot Squad and police in helicopters would be among 150 officers on hand for the event, which runs from September 3 to 6.
But 7th Generation spokesman Peter Lanyon told the newspaper only safe protests were planned.
"We respect the right of people to protest but so long as they are not putting anyone in danger," he said.