Roadkill/injured animals: what you can do to help
Unfortunately, animals being killed or injured by cars is a common occurrence Australia-wide. If you live in a rural or semi-rural area, it’s something you may see every day. Here are some actions all of us can take to help reduce the impact of cars on our local wildlife.
- If you’re driving through a rural or semi-rural area at night, dusk, or dawn: SLOW DOWN.
Many Australian animals are most active at night or at dusk (wombats, kangaroos, wallabies etc.) Slowing down by 5 kilometres can decrease your braking distance (the time it takes to completely stop your car) which may be the difference between hitting or not hitting an animal. Make sure you’re scanning the bush on either side of the road as you’re driving, and if you see animals, even if they look like they’re stationary, slow down and drive past them as slowly as you can manage (presuming there’s no one tailgaiting you, etc.)
- Never throw food or foodscraps out of the car.
This attracts animals to the side of the road where they are more likely to be hit.
- If you see a dead animal on the road or bordering on the road, stop and move it.
Carnivorous animals may be attracted to the carcass, and are likely to also be killed. Make sure you wear gloves when touching the body.
- Keep a ‘roadkill/injured animal’ kit in the back of your car.
This should include gloves, towels, warm blankets, pillowcases and a sturdy box or non-airtight container to keep animals in during transport. You’ll hopefully never have to use it, but you never know!
- If you see a dead marsupial, always stop and check the pouch.
Assuming she’s a female, there may be live pouch young (otherwise known as a joey) in her pouch. Make sure you’re wearing gloves, then gently open the pouch and see what you can see. If there’s a joey, be very careful while removing it - it’s mouth may still be attached to the mother’s teat and you could hurt it by removing it forcibly. Wrap it in a blanket and place it in a pillowcase in the towel-lined box. Make sure there’s no noise (no music, talk in quiet voices) and keep it as warm as possible (28-32 degrees is optimal). Do not offer food or water.
- If you see an injured animal, your safety comes first.
First check to be sure that you are not at danger from passing traffic. Approach the animal slowly and calmly. Remember: the animal is probably very scared and disoriented and thinks you are a predator. The animal may attack in self-defence. If the animal is a snake, male platypus, or bat, DO NOT attempt to capture it. Call the wildlife emergency number for your state and leave it to a trained expert. If the animal is not one of the above and you can safely do so, carefully pick the animal up using a towel or blanket from your kit. Don’t handle them more than necessary, and don’t try to comfort them by patting or stroking. Wrap them up in a blanket and place them in the box. Make sure there is no excess noise (keep conversations quiet, no music etc.) and keep the car at a comfortable temperature (26 degrees is preferable for adult animals). Do not offer water or food. This brings me to the next tip:
- Keep the wildlife emergency number for your state or the state you’re travelling in in your phone.
You can get a passenger to call this number while you’re picking up the animal, or if you’re alone, you can do it after you’ve placed them in the box. The wildlife emergency numbers for each state are:
VIC: 13 11 11
NSW: 1300 094 737
ACT: 0413 495 031
QLD: 1300 852 188
NT: 89 886 121
WA: (08) 9474 9055
SA: (08) 8289 0896
TAS: (03) 6233 6556
They will refer you to your nearest vet, shelter or carer, or dispatch someone to come and help you.
Those are some simple steps we can all take to help care for our beautiful native wildlife. Thank you for reading!