THE LIFE YOU SAVE MAY BE YOUR OWN!
A collision between wildlife and your car is not only distressing, it puts your own life and property at risk. The following hints will reduce the risks but, with each one, put your own safety first.
Times to be especially careful
- Dusk to dawn: Wildlife is at its most active, while your ability to see is at its weakest and you are more likely to be tired. Drive at least 10 km/h below the speed limit (35km/h below on fast roads) to give both you and animals a fighting chance. Animals will be blinded by your headlights and startled by the car noises, causing them either to freeze or run in any direction; so, if you see an animal on the road and it's safe to do so, turn on your hazard lights, slow to a stop if necessary and sound your horn.
- Spring: Think of wildlife as teenagers, preoccupied with meeting and attracting members of the opposite sex, because they can be just as careless of their safety if there's an attractive potential partner on the other side of the road.
- Summer: You've seen young mothers so preoccupied with the welfare of their new babies, not much else seems to register? If so, you've got the picture with wildlife mothers. Newly emerged wildlife babies are even less aware of the dangers of the real world outside the pouch.
- Extended dry periods: The grass really is greener at the sides of roads, so be alert for grazing animals
- Heavy rain: Wet grass can cause stomach upsets in some wildlife (eg Wallabies, Kangaroos), so be alert to their crossing the road in search of a drier meal. Turtles too are on the move when it's been raining.
Things to watch for
- Birds are very vulnerable at the best of times, and their chance of survival after collision with a car is almost zero. If it's safe, slow your car, sound your horn and beware: depending on the wind direction, their take off flight path may be directly at your car, so stopping some distance away is not a bad idea.
- Slow moving animals like wombats, echidnas, turtles and goannas don't stand a chance on the road so, if you see one and it's safe, turn on your hazard lights, stop the car and do your best to encourage them to move on. It's a good idea to carry gloves in your car for lots of reasons, not the least of which is shifting echidnas, turtles and smaller lizards. Do not try to handle wombats and larger reptiles; try making noise and "shooing" from behind. Sorry, but unless you are absolutely certain a snake is non-venomous, it's best to leave it alone.
- Always take the animal to the side of the road it was heading for. It has good reasons for wanting to be on the other side.
- Please don't litter! Wildlife has learned thrown packages might contain tasty leftovers, and they encourage animals onto the road.
If the animal is small and manageable, using every precaution (hazard lights, gloves), follow the guidelines in "How you can help until a rescuer arrives" (please keep a copy in your car) and contact the nearest wildlife rescue group (WINC 's number is 1300 WINCWL or 1300 946295; other groups' numbers are in the App mentioned in this website) or take it to the nearest Vet. Make sure the animal is safely held or contained so that it doesn't distract the driver.
If the animal is large and/or poses a risk to you because it is panicking, using every precaution (hazard lights etc) try to establish a noticeable barrier between it and other motorists, take careful note of its location, put a marker around a nearby tree or pole if possible, and phone the nearest wildlife group or the police.
Dead animals: Using every precaution (hazard lights, gloves) move the animal from the road so that its young, or birds of prey, are not attracted to it. If it's a female kangaroo, wallaby or possum, do your best to discover if there's a joey in its pouch. If there is, contact your nearest wildlife rescue group or follow the directions in "How you can help until a rescuer arrives"
If you travel a lot in wildlife territory, some people swear by the Shoo Roo, a high frequency whistle attached to the front of your car that lets animals know you're approaching.
And remember: For your own safety, if it's possible park well off the road and be very careful of passing traffic.
Dont forget - enter our hotline into your mobile phone! 1300WINCWL or 1300 946295