Tassie’s Critter Carnage; An apocalypse of naive natives

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Tasmania. An island of pure, clean fresh air with abundant, precious wildlife in one of the greenest places on the planet.

Oh and I should also mention it’s also the roadkill capital of the world!

You sure get the full impact of those words once you hit the roads and see the shocking road carnage through your own lenses. I wish it wasn’t so.  I guess raw beauty can’t come without a downside and this would have to be Tassie’s.  As you drive along soaking up the stunning views, the lumps of lifeless furry animals on and by the road is so strikingly eye catching that it can’t not steal your attention.     

Some corpses are frozen in time, some are devoured by other wild animals and some spread so far across the road that swerving around their precious little minced bodies isn’t an option.  

These are the remnants of Tasmanian devils, wombats, eastern quolls, pademelons, eastern barred bandicoots, bettongs, short beaked echidnas, eastern grey kangaroos, common brushtail possums as well as numerous birds and many other Tasmanian bush locals.

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The sight of these carcasses are perturbing and a stark reminder of the impact humans have on the environment.  They unfortunately don’t stand much of a chance when they venture to the roadside and come into contact with motor vehicles.  

Tasmania has the greatest density of squashed animals per kilometre than anywhere on the planet.  Every three kilometres, there’s a dead animal.  That adds up to 300,000 animals a year, or an average of one killed every two minutes. I’ve even recently read that the estimated numbers are much higher, with the toll sitting as high as half-a-million a year. These stats are horrendous.  

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On the upside, just as the soil is super fertile in these parts, so too are the animals.  This also attributes to the number of deaths.  They go hand in hand.  However,  it just doesn’t balance out the great compunction one feels for the little furry ones.  

Thankfully the roadsides aren’t lined with despondent memorial crosses to mark each loss of wild life. Each corpse is enough and promptly brings attention back to the roads and speedometer.   Night driving requires full engagement and keeping a heavy hand on the wheel especially driving through animal hot spots.  Maps for these animal dense areas can be found on the roadkilltas website.  

Animals are particularly active at dusk and dawn so it’s best to avoid those times or drive with extra care.  Driving no faster than 80 km/h is also wise. If you do hit a critter, it is worth stopping if it’s safe to do so, to see if you can help it.  Oh and also to check out your vehicle!  Many animals sustain injuries that can be treated but are often left to slowly die or are left vulnerable to other animal attacks when they can be saved.

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Tasmanian devils are among the carnivorous scavengers that are attracted to the roads by the carrion. As there’s an abundant supply of fresh flesh it doesn’t take long for them to arrive for their meat feast.  This unfortunately then puts them and other animals in an unsafe position as well as motorists.

How to handle wildlife road accidents.

  • Pull over and put your hazards on.
  • Get out of the car only when the road is clear.
  • Use a box, towel, blanket, scarf or anything  so that you can safely collect the injured animal
  • Keep the animal warm and get it to a wildlife facility as soon as possible.
  • If there’s no chance of rescue, remove roadkill well away from the road.

*It’s important to note that female marsupials may have young in their pouches and even though the mother has died, their offspring can be saved.  So it’s well worth checking. If they do have youngens, contact the nearest wildlife centre for an action plan.

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Wildlife rescue options:

To read more about bewildering stats on flattened fauna in Tasmania head to http://www.roadkilltas.com

 

 

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