Posted on August 8, 2022 by Anne Layton-Bennett - Blog
Have we reached a tipping point I wonder, in a realisation and an awareness – as well as hopefully a collective horror – about the staggering number of wildlife being exterminated on our roads?
It’s not like the issue of roadkill is new. Some of us have been urging drivers to slow down on Tasmania’s roads for years, especially between the hours of dusk and dawn when our mostly nocturnal wildlife is active. There have been multiple letters to editors over the years, from both locals and tourists, appalled at the number of roadkilled bodies lining the roadsides. There have been multiple pleas from wildlife champion Greg Irons from Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary, begging people to please show caution, and to slow down, especially when driving at night or early in the morning.
It seems that people are finally waking up and finding their voices. Certainly I hope so. Suddenly there seems to be an explosion of community groups forming around the state determined to halt the carnage. Primarily in their own locality, but also more widely. Facebook pages have been established. Tamar Valley Wildlife Roadkill Initiative and Friends of Summerleas Wildlife are just two of them. Posts are being shared. The ‘likes’ are increasing. While the graphic photos being posted can be confronting, (they’re meant to be) they are also having some success in mobilising people to be more aware. And to encourage them how to be involved.
Letters to editors are good, and Council road signs reminding drivers to ‘slow down for wildlife’ are also good, but a relatively new and effective strategy being promoted by a southern Tasmanian group is posters. They have a range of different ones to choose from and they’re popping up on fences and gates across the island. Thanks to a committed team of volunteers and wildlife carers these posters are being ferried around the state. They all have a photograph of a pademelon, a wallaby, a wombat, a masked owl, a Tasmanian devil etc and a simple message that asks drivers to slow down because everyone deserves to arrive home safe and sound at night. And the cost is modest at only $16 each. Order from Friends of Summerleas Wildlife
It’s a fantastic initiative and already there are three along our road. It’s certainly not the only strategy to help protect our vulnerable wildlife, and I cannot say in truth that it’s proved 100 per cent effective yet in my area, but it’s a start and will hopefully prompt more people to be alert to our furred and feathered friends when they’re driving along regional and rural roads, because as the posters remind us: we all deserve to arrive home safely.
Posted on September 14, 2020 by Anne Layton-Bennett - Blog
Plans for yesterday morning required a reset after I discovered a very alive and kicking pademelon joey in the pouch of a roadkilled mum shortly after setting off on my morning walk with Della dog. Mum was still warm so clearly hadn’t long been hit, and although joey was still very pink and unfurred, she was strong and extremely reluctant to leave the safety of her mother’s warm pouch.
A swift turn around, (luckily on this occasion I was in the car and driving to one of our regular weekend walks), and back home to contact the state’s wildlife rescue service, now coordinated by Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary in the south. I was unsure if the carer to whom I’ve previously taken orphaned joeys over the years was still operating. Amazingly, after what has to be 40-odd years, I learned that she is. I interviewed her at least eight years ago and she’d been caring for wildlife then for about 30 years.
Like all wildlife carers Lorraine was a volunteer and the time and commitment required to help minimise and ameliorate the ghastly toll on our wildlife from interactions with vehicles is just amazing. Joeys as young as the one I rescued need four-hourly feeds – so similar to human babies in their demand for food. And due to their intolerance to cow’s milk a special marsupial formula has to be given, which only registered carers are allowed to access. It’s a product that doesn’t come cheap and it’s likely some carers sometimes pay for supplies with their own money, especially at peak breeding season when the number of animals needing care escalates.
Back home joey soon snuggled into my beanie, topped with a scarf to make it as cosy as possible, while I recorded the details with the WRS. This included identifying the species, weighing the joey, and taking a photo (not easy!) while waiting for Thomas, the designated wildlife-collector-of-injured-animals that day, to come and deliver her to a carer in my area able to cope with one more animal in need.
Spring is a particularly busy time for injured wildlife, a sad indictment on the number of dead animals and orphaned joeys that are a result of speeding vehicles, or careless driving.
This blog post is therefore also a reminder and a request to everyone reading it to PLEASE slow down on our roads, especially between dusk and dawn. It truly is beyond distressing to find injured and deceased animals that would still be alive and hopping if everyone just took a little more care, left home a few minutes earlier, and reduced their speed, especially on those regional and rural roads that are also shared by our precious and iconic wildlife.