Tasmania has the unfortunate title of “The Roadkill Capital of the World.” This moniker has been attached to the island state for as long as residents can remember. On average, over half a million animals are found dead along Tasmanian roads every year.
As an important habitat for animal species that are not found anywhere else in the world, it is imperative that roads are made safe. Over the years, several solutions have been adopted to lessen the number of deaths. However, recent statistics show there is still plenty of work to be done.
Tasmania’s excessive roadkill problem broken down.
- Several of the species that call Tasmania home are nocturnal in nature. When they cross the road at night, they get frazzled by oncoming headlights. This causes them to panic which leads to unpredictable behaviour that leads to their deaths.
- The dispersal of young Tasmanian devils from their parents coincides with the summer holiday. This combination of high vehicular traffic and juvenile animals results in plenty of roadkill.
- Roadsides offer bountiful resources, such as water and vegetation. These are appealing conditions to animals and they choose these areas for their territory. The proximity to human-dense locations increases the risk of becoming roadkill.
Tourism and the environment drive Tasmania’s efforts.
In 2017, Tasmania saw its tourist numbers reach 1.26 million, two per cent more than the previous year. As one of the main economic drivers of the island state, tourism is closely monitored by the local government. What have they observed? One of the most common tourist complaints about the area is the unsightly imagery of dead animals along Tasmania’s roads. Officials worry that if this continues, the island state’s tourism industry might suffer adverse effects.
Aside from the economic implications of roadkill, it also presents an environmental problem. Brushtail possums are one of the most common species killed on roads. When they are not removed immediately, Tasmanian devils will eat them on site. This leads to the latter’s own death on the road. Conservationists are campaigning for better road safety to save Tasmanian devils as they are an endangered species.
What has been done so far?
- In 2018, the Royal Automobile Club of Tasmania launched a campaign with wildlife sanctuaries and the Wilderness Society of Tasmania to reduce roadkill. The campaign raises awareness through driving best practices. It encourages motorists to be more mindful when they’re on the road.
- Some local bodies have partnered with traffic control equipment suppliers. As a result, several warning signs have been installed along high traffic areas. The aim of this is to inform motorists of possible animal crossings nearby.
- Research has also been carried out to determine the appropriate solutions. A three-year study is using smart sonic fences to deter animals from becoming roadkill. Positive results have proven the fences’ effectiveness and it is expected to be adopted in other areas of the country in the following years.
It is debatable whether instances of roadkill in Tasmania will ever be completely eradicated. However, recent efforts show a ray of hope. As more people take active measures towards animal conservation, experts are optimistic that the amount of roadkill will decrease over a shorter period.