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Journeys : Feb March 2012
Tackling the roadkill issue North West Coast journalist Simone Lea reports on some practical tips to reduce Tasmania’s high incidence of roadkill Anyone driving on Tasmania’s country roads and highways can see that roadkill is a statewide problem. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuar y director Greg Irons, recently named as Tasmania’s Young Australian of the Year for his w ildlife initiatives, says that there are two key things drivers can do to minimise the risk of hitting native animals on our roads. Reduce your speed between dusk and dawn Greg says that research into the reduction of wildlife roadkill in Tasmania found the accident rate could drop by 50 percent if drivers adjusted their speeds in 100km zones at night. “If you drop to 80km per hour in 100km zones, you probably halve your chances of hitting w ildlife,” he says. “ When you turn on your lights, it’s time to slow dow n. Adding a few minutes more to your travel time is not a great cost when you get there safely – and complete the trip without adding to Tasmania’s already high roadkill statistics.” Look for and remember roadkill hotspots Greg says that drivers can learn to spot w ildlife’s little highways – the places where they are likely to cross the road. “Where there is thick grass, a body of water, or frequent roadkill, there are likely to be other animals about.,” he says. “Slow down at those spots and if you see wildlife, honk your horn to scare them away.” Rain doesn’t deter wildlife at night – animals will seek shelter but they still have to feed. “It’s harder to see them on a rainy night and a driver’s reaction time is a lot less in the wet, so it’s even more important to slow down,” Greg says. The sanctuary handles the Nature Conservation Branch’s statewide after-hours’ rescue calls. “If it’s not safe to stop, don’t,” Greg says. “You don’t want to cause an accident because you were checking to see if the animal is still alive. It’s not safe to pull over and have half of your car still on the road, with your hazard lights on. You have to pull completely off the road. If that means you have to drive 100 metres further on or turn around to the other side of the road to find a place where you can pull off completely, then that’s what you should do.” (Check our article ‘On the edge’ on page 21 of this issue of Journeys for more on this all-important safety point.) If you are inclined to stop, Greg suggests carrying a few basic items in your car. These include a torch, ref lective safety vest, pillow case and beanie to carry joeys in, a hessian bag to carry larger animals and a pair of disposable gloves. “ Some wildlife carry joeys at different times of the year, so it’s important to check the pouch to see if it’s still alive,” he says. Moving the carcass away from the road’s verge was necessary because it helps reduce the chances of carnivores being run over while feeding on roadkill. “I was travelling through the Styx Valley once and I found four dead Tasmanian devils that had been hit beside some roadkill that was left on the road,” he says. The statew ide wildlife 24-hour rescue number is 6268 1184 and the form to report Tasmanian Devil roadkill is available on ww w.tassiedevil.com.au . “If we can’t get someone there, we can at least give you advice over the phone until help can be arranged,” Greg says. To find maps of roadkill blackspots go to w w w.roadkilltas.com. You can get our b umper sticker from any RACT branc h, statewide Life on the move February / March 2012 27 6446
Apr May 2012