Campaign launched to reduce Tasmanian roadkill
Less than seven months into the year Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary has already taken more than 30 orphaned wombat joeys into their care.
This number was only expected to increase as winter progresses and more wild animals are killed on Tasmanian roads.
Bonorong director Greg Irons has implored drivers to think about both their own safety and the safety of native species, especially when choosing their speed around dawn and dusk.
“Some people are still unaware that if you just do a few little things then the chances [of hitting an animal] will be very different,” he said.
Mr Irons said that the crucial action people can take is to avoid driving at dawn and dusk, and that if that isn’t possible, to slow down during the twilight hours.
“We’re all time poor, but if you go at 80 instead of 100 then that will add five extra minutes to your drive home. That’s one extra song!” he said.
“Our chances of being able to stop or at least slow down are massively increased from even a 10 km/h difference.
“It doesn’t matter how many times we say it, the message just doesn’t seem to get through.
“If people came and spent one week with us – just one week – they would change their behaviour, immediately.
“We’re not just talking about joeys, we’re talking about maimed animals, animals that have survived for weeks in the bush with a broken leg … a lot of people couldn’t eat their lunch if they saw what we see.”
Of the wombat joeys taken into care, Mr Irons said about 80 per cent are euthanised due to their young age.
Bonorong, in collaboration with RACT and the Wilderness Society, have launched a new cartoon character called Willy Wombat in the hopes of lowering incidents of roadkill.
Willy’s messages will be distributed across social media, tourism industry networks, and through membership of the three groups.
The campaign lists the following actions to reduce the chance of hitting animals on the road:
- 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 if off the road.
RACT chief executive Harvey Lennon said vehicles 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.”
Nearly 300,000 animals are killed through driver collisions in Tasmania every year.
- Estimated roadkill per year: 293,000
- 50 per cent of roadkill happens where vehicles travel over 80 km/h
- Brushtailed possum: 108,543
- Pademelon: 28,854
- Wallaby: 15,829
- Tasmanian devil: 3,392
- Average roadkill density: one animal every three kilometres
- Average roadkill per driver per year: one
- 32 animals killed every hour on average