One of the most upsetting tasks are all the road checks we do every couple of days. Too often animals are hit unnecessary. Driving at a slower speed, being aware and observant especially at dawn and dusk can avoid many collisions and save lives. Dragging mangled bodies off the roads and highways are not a pleasant job. We euthanise animals still alive but too injured for any chance of recovery, we rescue joeys still alive in pouches and clear the road to give respect to the animal paying the price of his or her life. We search for missing joeys belonging to killed lactating mothers.
At the road side, animals are checked and confirmed deceased, turned over and checked for joeys still alive in the pouch. If a joey is present the animal is dragged off the road on its back to not injure the joey. Joeys are removed and the dead bodies are taken further away from the road if possible, to prevent further collisions and additional victims. The animals are marked as a recognition to others that the animal has been checked.
Often animals do not die immediately and can lay injured for hours up to many days before they die. It is a hazard for other motorists as the injured animals are unpredictable. A kangaroo with both legs fractured can still “hop” to try and get away, a wombat can drag itself with its front legs, a raptor with fractured wings will use its talons. It is important to always assess the situation, but we have found that the biggest threat to our lives when trying to rescue these animals are in fact other motorists who just refuse to slow down when going past.
Joeys in the pouch that are still alive are taken into care. Joeys still alive and next to the deceased mother can often be grabbed quickly before it’s too late and they decide to leave. The missing joeys can be very difficult to find as they often hide or are injured some distance away from their mother. A lactating mother is the sign that we need to search further along the road and the bushes nearby. Our “toy-truck-camera” is a useful tool for missing wombat joeys, see the rescue page. The wombat joey in the picture was found about 10 meters from the mother on the other side of the road, unfortunately dead.
Drivers who collide with an animal have an obligation to stop and remove the animal off the road or notify the police. Wildlife along the roads are a driving hazard and should therefore be treated as such, the same as a snow-covered road or very heavy fog or rain. The best and simplest way to reduce the risk is to slow down or avoid driving on country road at dawn and dusk. Being alert and expect animals to jump out in front of a car is common sense that unfortunately is not well understood by many drivers. The RMS, Driver Knowledge Test page have some information of driver education.