Drivers urged to stop throwing food out of windows, which attracts wildlife to the roadside
The motorists lobby in Tasmania has launched a joint campaign to reduce roadkill, saying that 500,000 native animals are killed on the state’s roads each year.
That equates to about one dead native animal per head of Tasmania’s population, giving the state one of the highest roadkill rates in the world.
In a joint campaign launch on Thursday with wildlife sanctuaries and the Wilderness Society of Tasmania, the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania chief executive, Harvey Lennon, said changes in driver behaviour, such as not throwing food out the window, which would attract animals to the roadside, could reduce the number of animals lost to roadkill.
Lennon said recorded crashes between cars and wildlife showed an increase in crashes during winter months, coinciding with earlier nightfall, and that crashes with wildlife were also a significant cause of serious motor vehicle accidents.
The Wilderness Society Tasmania campaigner Vica Bayley said vehicles had a particularly devastating impact on Tasmanian devils because the carrion eaters were often hit when feeding on earlier roadkill.
In 2015, four devils that had been vaccinated against the deadly facial tumour disease, at the cost of $25,000 (Dh91,812) a head, were killed by cars within weeks of being released to the wild .
Bayley said even when the animals killed were not threatened species, the level of roadkill in Tasmania was an animal welfare issue.
“It’s about preventing all forms of wildlife, whether it is a threatened species or not, from what is at the end of the day an untimely death at the hands of a driver,” he said.
Greg Irons, the director of Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, which runs a statewide wildlife rescue service, said the service received 30,000 calls to transport injured wildlife since its establishment in 2010, and 30 per cent of those animals had been injured by a car.
Irons said the animals they most commonly saw were brush-tailed possums, pademelons and wallabies.