Campaigner 'thrilled' duck signs installed

Wanaka woman Karen Neilsen with one of the resort's new lakefront ''ducks crossing'' signs for which she has campaigned. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Wanaka woman Karen Neilsen with one of the resort's new lakefront ''ducks crossing'' signs for which she has campaigned. Photo by Lucy Ibbotson.
Ducks dodging traffic on their daily commute between Wanaka's lakefront and Pembroke Park have a new friend in animal-lover Karen Neilsen, whose one-woman crusade for ''ducks crossing'' signs has produced results.

Mrs Neilsen was ''so thrilled'' when she saw the new signs in place at either end of the park on Ardmore St at the weekend, having lobbied local councillors and the Wanaka Community Board for several months for their installation.

''I feel really proud ... I've actually driven past about four times today just to look at them,'' she said yesterday.

Witnessing one of a pair of ducks get run over last summer was the catalyst for her campaign, which ruffled some feathers along the way.

In December, QLDC senior communications adviser Michele Poole said when the suggestion had been raised by others in the past, the community board was not keen on a ''proliferation of signs'', particularly as the ducks did not all cross in one place.

Deputy mayor Lyal Cocks was against the latest proposal, saying the signs were unnecessary. He cast the single dissenting vote against last week's community board recommendation the signage be approved.

Yesterday, Cr Cocks maintained his view on ''unnecessary signage clutter'' on the lakefront.

''We've got it [duck signage] in an area where we're trying to keep it open for amenity value ... and as we know, ducks won't always cross in the same point and people shouldn't have to be at a sign to not run over ducks.''

Community board chairwoman Rachel Brown said the signs were installed on Friday. She understood they were to be funded by the council's traffic services renewal budget at a cost of about $500.

Mrs Neilsen thought the signs fitted the bill perfectly and would hopefully reduce duck deaths by encouraging motorists to slow down on the busy stretch of road.

''It just shows that we're a caring community, I think. And what's wrong with it? Where's the harm? ... It just makes people aware and that's all I want. I love ducks.''

-lucy.ibbotson@odt.co.nz