What is the most under-rated threat to Australia’s native wildlife? Sure, we know about foxes, cats, wild dogs, weeds, habitat fragmentation and even climate change … the list goes on and on, but a serious threat that we don’t consider for the significant threat that it is, is ourselves in a vehicle!
Just in the last month, 100’s of possums, bandicoots, wallabies and many more of our native wildlife’s lives have been cut short on the roads around the range, as our speedy convenience of getting from A to B meets the more easy going pace that the rest of nature follows, with often messy results…
Fortunately (not sure if that’s the right word) this level of carnage seems to only occur for a short period every year. Perhaps it’s because there’s tastier grass to be found on the roadside (late winter), perhaps it’s mating season and animals are travelling further and crossing more roads, perhaps it’s down to us driving a bit crazier in spring! A bit of speculation perhaps, but either way the result appears to be an increased death toll, as the weather warms up.
The problem for the driver like yourself is that the wildlife can appear to want to be hit… There you are, minding your own business, zooming along a picturesque country road and see a wallaby crossing the road, you may slow down a bit, but accelerate again as it jumps to leave the road. However at the last minute the wallaby hooks back across in front of you and hey presto, there’s a dint in your bumper and a dying wallaby on the road. Why? Put simply the dodge, weave and back track technique has worked well for the wallaby in evading predators for millions of years of evolution and worked perfectly fine against dingo (and before that the thylacine), however the speed , size and weight of our vehicles is something wild animals have little or no defence against.
The only way we can try and reduced the road carnage is through your awareness of where there may be wild animals on the roadside and also that they may irrationally jump out in front of you! I know there are some special individuals who swerve to hit animals on purpose, but for the rest of us, if we drive according to conditions and reduce our speed in bushland areas, we can try and reduce the road toll. However if you do hit an animal and it requires medical assistance, contact the Australia Zoo wildlife Hospital 1300 369 652.