Avoiding Wildlife on the Road

Wildlife Article taken from The Biscuit magazine Posted Aug 31, 2022
Many Australians have tales of encountering wildlife while driving, but there are ways you can avoid animals on the road

Sadly, sometimes wildlife like kangaroos, possums, koalas, birds, reptiles and other animals are struck and killed or injured by motor vehicles.

Collisions kangaroos and wallabies make up 90% of all animal road accidents in Australia.

So, it’s important we all play our part to be extra careful – especially during warmer months and breeding seasons - to prevent road accidents. There are steps you can take to significantly reduce the odds of having an animal related crash and safely live with wildlife.

If you come across an injured animal on the road, contact the RSPCA’s 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline 1300 ANIMAL.

Be aware of where wildlife are located

It is helpful when driving in new places to be aware of where wildlife may be located. Simply type in your location and ‘animals on roads’ to get an insight into highly populated wildlife areas. You could also ask a local when driving through a new area. Locals will usually be aware of what wildlife is located where, so can provide helpful information. Knowing where animals are will allow you to be especially alert and careful when driving through their habitat. Be extra careful when driving at dusk and dawn as these are the times wildlife are most active.

Be conscious of the seasons

In addition to knowing where wildlife may be located, it is also important to consider the season. If you know you will be driving through an area of Australia that has a high population of a certain animal, it is a good idea to research their most active seasons. For example, during breeding season, wildlife are more active as they are on the move in search of mates. Active or lively animals may also create distractions for drivers, increasing the chance of a crash.

Make sure your horn and headlights work

Having bright headlights can allow you to see an animal on the road ahead, and react to the situation as early as possible. If you see an animal on the road in front of you, pressing your horn is normally enough to make the animal back away from the road.

echidna crossing the road at night

Photo by Ethan Mann Photography

Be alert when driving

Being alert at all times while driving can reduce the risk of hitting wildlife on our roads. If you are more likely to notice if an animal is obstructing the road, you have more time to act accordingly. If you do notice an animal on the road, it is important to consider the safety of yourself and other drivers. Drive sensibly and to the conditions. Never swerve to avoid hitting an animal, but try to slow down or come to a safe stop.

Minimise distractions

While using a GPS and making hands-free calls are legal, they are distractions. When you head into a rural area, it’s a good idea to avoid devices. If you have a passenger in your car, try to refrain from chatting until you pass through a high-risk animal road accident area. This will allow you to remain focused on the road and possible hazards.

What to do if you hit an animal while driving

Sadly, there may be times when you cannot avoid an animal when driving. If you hit an animal, make sure to call 1300 ANIMAL or your local wildlife rescue group to assess the animal, or take it away for treatment.

Sometimes animals can get caught in car grills and engine bays once they’ve been hit. It’s important to stop, pull over and check your vehicle thoroughly.

RSPCA Inspector Ben recently rescued a young Agile Wallaby that was hit with a car by a family driving to Cairns. The family believed the wallaby hopped off into the bushes, but after inspecting their car the next morning, they found him trapped behind the grill.

wallaby stuck in grill of car

Inspector Ben was called to the scene and managed to rescue the little wallaby from the car. It fortunately only suffered a few scratches and was returned to the wild after a quick visit to the vet. Inspector Ben called the tale one of the greatest animal survival stories of all time!

Look out for animals that may have already been hit

When driving, check the road and the sides of the road for animals that may have already been hit by a car. If you do come across an injured animal, slow down and pull over if it is safe to do so. If the animal has a pouch, please check for young. You can call the 24/7 Animal Emergency Hotline – 1300 ANIMAL - for assistance over the phone if you find young in need of help. If there are no young in the pouch, scan the area for young that may have been separated from a deceased or injured animal.

Transport or report

If you come across an orphaned or injured young animal and can safely contain it, make sure to keep it warm and take it to your nearest vet, the RSPCA Wildlife Hospital in Brisbane – 139 Wacol Station Rd, Wacol, or contact your local wildlife rescue group for assistance.

If you come across a deceased animal, your local council will remove the body from the roadside.

When conducting rescues on injured wildlife, the RSPCA Animal Ambulance team will usually also remove any deceased animals they attend to, or mark them with paint for other rescuers to know that pouches have been checked.

If you are ever unsure what to do, call 1300 ANIMAL (1300 264 625) for all animal emergencies.

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