(Australian Associated Press)
Motorists are being warned to be extra vigilant of wildlife on regional roads as states begin easing coronavirus travel restrictions.
Animal collisions are expected to spike by 15 per cent from May to August on regional roads, based on data from AAMI.
“Through the winter months, visibility decreases, particularly from 4pm to 8pm where we see the majority of accidents happen,” AAMI’s Head of Motor Claims Anna Cartwright told AAP.
The periods of low light during the winter months are also the times when animals come out in search of food.
“Dusk and dawn are when large mammals are most active. Due to bushfires and drought, food is very scarce, and due to the way roads are built, water washes down the sides and that’s where the grass grows,” the Wildlife Information Rescue Service’s (WIRES) Kristie Newton told AAP.
AAMI analysis revealed more than 21,000 animal collision claims were lodged between February 2019 and 2020, with a jump during winter.
Animal collisions were most likely to occur on Friday and the weekends with kangaroos the most likely to be hit, followed by wallabies.
The number had declined by 25 per cent over the March to April period due to restriction measures.
With the NSW government planning to ease restrictions on regional travel from June 1 and some states already allowing regional travel, animal groups are worried about the impact to native wildlife.
“We are preparing ourselves for that number to go up again … especially since we’re being encouraged to travel for the weekend in Australia for the next year or so,” Ms Newman said.
NSW was ranked the worst state for animal collisions, accounting for almost one-third of animal-related accidents.
Ms Cartwright urged drivers across Australia to practice vigilance when driving in the winter months to avoid hitting native wildlife on roads.
“Drive slowly at dawn and dusk and use your peripheral vision, particularly when travelling through forest or grassland areas where animals are not as clearly visible,” she said.
People who hit wildlife on the roads are urged to stop and check its welfare if safe to do so and call the local wildlife service.
Drivers can also put together a care kit which includes a towel, box, scissors and a pillowcase to help injured animals.
ANIMAL COLLISION HOTSPOTS IN AUSTRALIA:
* National – Canberra
* NSW – Dubbo
* Victoria – Heathcote
* Queensland – Roma
* Western Australia – Baldivis
* South Australia – Port Augusta
* Tasmania – Kingston
* ACT – Canberra