Winter road safety reminder for our wildlife

WITH the winter months a particularly dangerous period for animals – and drivers – on our roads, the RACT, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary and The Wilderness Society are reminding motorists of some simple steps to take to help reduce roadkill.

 

These steps include:

  • Look out for road signs and roadkill – they indicate wildlife hotspots.
  • Take extra care driving between dusk and dawn.
  • Don’t throw food out of your car – it attracts animals.
  • Never swerve to avoid animals – slow down instead.
  • Roadkill attracts scavengers. If safe, move it off the road.

 

To assist in delivering these messages, the group has unveiled its latest cartoon character – Willie the Wombat – via social media, tourism industry networks and members of the three groups.

Since the middle of March, Bonorong has received calls about 30 orphaned wombats – 14 since the start of winter.

The most likely reason for being an orphan is the animals’ mother being hit and killed by a car.

Over the same period, 382 animals (all species) have been reported as being hit by a car.

This is a conservative number as many animals are simply reported as injured, dead or orphaned without information being provided if a vehicle was involved.

Top species reported are wallaby (135), pademelon (78), brushtail possum (37) and kookaburra (23).

RACT Group chief executive officer Harvey Lennon said vehicles obviously posed a threat to wildlife, but collisions with wildlife posed a serious safety risk to vehicle occupants as well.

“It is important to be careful during winter,” he said.

“Studies have shown a rise in collisions between cars and wildlife during June, July and August as the peak commuting times coincide with nightfall.

“Developing an understanding of typical wildlife behaviour is also important as many animals will move suddenly and without warning into oncoming traffic.”

Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary director Greg Irons said almost 30 per cent of all animals reported to its Wildlife Rescue Service had been injured or orphaned by a car.

“This adds up to thousands and thousands of animals each year, and these are only the ones that can be helped – many more are killed on impact,” he said.

“This time of year is one of our worst for roadkill.

“The shorter days mean many people are driving to and from work in the dark, when animals are out and about.

“Very soon we will be in our peak joey season, which means more orphans in need of care when their mothers are killed.

“It is really important that we don’t accept roadkill as just a part of everyday life, because if we all make some very small changes – like simply driving slower between dusk and dawn – we could cut roadkill in Tasmania dramatically.”

Wilderness Society spokesperson Tom Allen said it remained the case that Tasmania had one of the world’s highest animal roadkill tolls in sharp contrast with its otherwise “clean, green” reputation.

“Unfortunately, this roadkill still includes endangered animals like the Tasmanian Devil, which is awful,” he said.

“We can and must reduce this shamefully high roadkill, but the good thing is that there’s things we can do that will achieve that.

“What’s more, driving more safely is better for animals and humans.”

Caption: From left, RACT Group chief executive officer Harvey Lennon, Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary director Greg Irons and The Wilderness Society’s Tom Allen with baby wombat Torri.