27 September 2020

Drought breaks on roadkill toll for ACT wildlife

| Michael Weaver
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Roo on the road

A kangaroo crosses the road near Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve. Photo: File.

The breaking of the drought in Canberra and the COVID-19 pandemic have combined to bring the number of callouts for injured animals down to its lowest rate in years.

While Canberra still holds its place as the roadkill capital of Australia, the acting director of ACT Parks and Conservation Service’s urban reserves, Kristy Gould, said the number of kangaroos injured or killed usually peaks during winter, but had declined by 60 per cent compared to the same time last year.

“In the last month, there has been a significant drop in the number of wildlife collisions,” Ms Gould told Region Media.

“We’re certain that a combination of the drought breaking in the ACT, and the reduction in cars on the road during coronavirus have made conditions conducive to people not hitting kangaroos on the road.

“In 2018, we had huge numbers of wildlife killed or injured because of the drought.”

There were 1939 callouts during the months of June, July and August of 2018, with 729 callouts in July alone. At the height of the COVID-19 lockdown in April this year, there were only 84 callouts, compared to 210 in April 2019.

Data showing the number of callouts for macropods

Data showing the number of callouts for macropods. Image: ACT Parks and Conservation Service

Ms Gould said while the actual numbers may be slightly higher due to the number of wildlife collisions that are not reported, this year has provided an encouraging reprieve for animals.

“It’s been an interesting year because normally we see the kangaroo collisions peaking in winter from June to August, and that’s been the case in the last couple of years, but this year, we had really big numbers in February (377 callouts).

“Then the drought broke and the numbers have plummeted. We’ve seen a very slow winter, but it was really high earlier on in the year,” she said.

Ms Gould said dawn and dusk are when most wildlife collisions occur, as this is when they generally graze during winter, which also coincides with peak-hour traffic times in the morning and evening.

The number of wildlife collisions tends to reduce during daylight saving hours.

READ ALSO Million-dollar contract locks in kangaroo cull for next five years

Increased fencing along the Tuggeranong Parkway and some major suburban roads such as Drakeford Drive have also helped reduce the numbers of animals straying on busy roads.

Other hotspots include the Monaro Highway where the speed limit is 100 km/h and places like Mt Taylor and Farrer Ridge and between Farrer and Wanniassa.

“There’s also a bit of signage around, but the main thing is to make people more aware that collisions generally occur on the higher speed roads and educate people as to when they are more likely to see wildlife on the roads,” Ms Gould said.

“If you hit an animal, make sure you are also safe as we don’t want people being hit because they haven’t moved their car off the road.”

If you hit an animal with your car, call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or ACT Wildlife on 0432 300 033. The call centres are staffed 24/7.

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rationalobserver7:39 am 03 Oct 20

Real world experience tells me that there would be 10 collisions with roos for every one reported, just as there are 10 shot for every cull tag issued.
Roo numbers are out of control due simply to the increased availability of water since the ACT was settled. The density here is the highest in Australia.
It’s an artificially high number due to human mismanagement. Fence off all water sources and the problem will reduce.

More animals get hit during drought because the drainage next to roads is the only place there is green feed. When there is green feed elsewhere they don’t need to be near the road. They aren’t there because they want to be.

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