An impromptu regional landmark regarded by some as cute and cuddly, but by others as an eyesore, is being deliberately hacked apart by knife-wielding vandals, its creator claims.
- The teddy bear fence was started two years ago along the Copper Coast Highway
- Councils have raised concerns that the fence is a potential risk to drivers
- Its creator says vandals have now taken to ‘slashing’ the teddy bears with a knife
The teddy bear fence on South Australia’s Copper Coast Highway, at the top of the state’s Yorke Peninsula, was begun two years ago by commercial radio host Andrew “Cosi” Costello.
Since then, it has sprawled for more than a kilometre as new bears have been gradually added, with the estimated number of soft toys attached now more than 1,500.
Local councils have raised concerns about the potential road safety implications, with one saying the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (DPTI) had recently cut the speed limit to 60 kilometres per hour along the length of the fence.
In a Facebook post published yesterday, Costello accused “childish” vandals of targeting the fence in the wake of the controversy, saying some of the bears appeared to have been cut open with knives.
“People are slashing the teddy bears on the teddy bear fence and throwing the stuffing around the road to make it look like it causes huge mess,” he said.
“We are working overtime to move the teddy bear fence but the haters will need to be patient.
“Channel your hate and negativity into something bigger than teddy bears for kids to look at on a fence.”
Costello said the upkeep of the fence was attended to by his mother, and that a recent survey had shown overwhelming support for the teddy bears.
A stretch of the popular teddy bear fence along the Copper Coast Highway in South Australia. (Facebook: Cosi Andrew Costello)
One social media user commented about seeing people recently ripping bears from the fence, saying she witnessed soft toys being “violently” removed “as we drove past”.
Barunga West Council chief executive officer Andrew Cole said he was not aware of any specific instances of vandalism or bears being cut down, but said it was a potential concern.
“If there are bears that deteriorate and the stuffing comes out, it does go through the trees behind, potentially into the paddocks, and then becomes an issue in terms of litter,” he said.
The bears have found a backer in Premier Steven Marshall, who described it as a “massive attraction”.
The future of the fence remains unknown, and Mr Cole said talks between Costello and DPTI had yet to occur.
Mr Cole said the speed limit was reduced from 100 kph to 60 kph just over a week ago as those involved worked out what to do.
“We can certainly understand why the Department of Transport has put a speed restriction in place until the future of the bears has been resolved,” he said.
“We haven’t had any specific complaints over that … what we would want to look for is a resolution over the teddy bear fence itself.
“That’s where things are sitting at, at the moment — waiting for those further discussions to happen hopefully sooner rather than later.
“There are really mixed views in the community.”