Every year thousands of native animals are killed on Australian roads. Wildlife like echidnas, koalas, and kangaroos all live near urban areas in our country and can be easily injured or killed on our roads. Wildlife on roads is also a safety concern for drivers and passengers.
Kangaroos and wallabies are most at risk on our roads. But it’s also important to look out for wombats, birds, possums, lizards and echidnas while driving. Macropods like kangaroos and wallabies are crepuscular, meaning that they are most active at dawn and dusk. The grass on the sides of our roads tends to be fresher from water run-off, making these areas favourable feeding sites.
If you find a deceased animal on the road, please take the time to move it a few metres to the side of the road if it’s safe to do so. This helps ensure that other animals, such as birds of prey, aren’t injured while feeding on the carcass. If the deceased animal is a marsupial, do a pouch check for joeys. If there is a joey in the pouch, do not attempt to remove it as that can harm the joey. Instead call a wildlife rescue hotline such as WIRES on 1300 094 737 for assistance. If you hit or run over a bird, stop to check that it hasn’t gone into the grill or engine, as this can commonly occur.
If you spot injured wildlife, park your car safely with hazard lights on. When calling wildlife rescue hotlines, take note of the street address or nearby landmarks to guide rescuers to the animal quickly. Even if the animal appears okay and has hopped or moved away, it will be injured. Rescuers will check the animal’s condition and, if deceased, check for pouch young and signs of atfoot joeys.
Drivers should be aware of road stretches where they are likely to encounter wildlife, especially during dusk and dawn, and slow down to avoid a collision. According to NSW Roads and Maritime Services, 20% of crashes on rural roads involve an animal. Avoid swerving suddenly to avoid hitting animals. Instead, if possible, try to stop the car slowly and steer around the animal in a controlled fashion.
When road visibility is poor, drive slower to increase your reaction time. Be alert while driving and look out for wildlife feeding near the roadside and for wildlife crossing signs. Remember to drive to suit the conditions and at a speed that allows you to avoid a potential collision with an animal.
Kirrawee Veterinary Hospital helps WIRES treat sick and injured wildlife. If we all do our bit, we can reduce accidents and native wildlife injury and death.
If you find wildlife that needs veterinary attention, use a towel to scoop the animal up whilst keeping the head and limbs covered to avoid injury to the animal and yourself. Then place the animal in a dark well ventilated box or carrier and take it to the nearest clinic.