An Aussie driver has sparked backlash after sharing a video of himself driving at speed towards what is either a wallaby or small kangaroo on a road south of Heathcote, Victoria. The reckless act has prompted authorities to plead with motorists to take more care around wildlife.
The clip shows the driver clock the animal in his headlights and only slow his speed from 82km/h to 77km/h as he comes dangerously close on approach.
After the startled marsupial swerves off the road to get away, the motorist drives along next to it, maintaining the same speed as the animal until it finally hops off into the darkness. "Always wondered how fast a kangaroo can travel, found out yesterday," he wrote.
The location of the video, Heathcote, is notorious for roadkill. A 2021 survey conducted by AAMI insurance found the town to be the "most dangerous hotspot for animal collisions".
Wildlife Victoria also revealed they've recently experienced a spike in emergency calls regarding animal collisions on the state's roads.
"Wildlife Victoria received approximately 110,000 calls for help in 2022, and we are experiencing a 15 per cent rise in calls year on year. Wildlife being hit by vehicles is consistently the largest cause type of calls to the Wildlife Victoria Emergency Response Service," they told Yahoo News.
Driver's act could kill
Studies have revealed that one of the most common causes of death in kangaroos and wallabies is stress myopathy. According to Wildcare Australia, this condition can destroy the animal's muscles, including those of the heart, often quickly leading to death.
Australian Wildlife Rescue Organisation WIRES previously released a statement warning that the active pursuit of animals such as wallabies can induce this particular condition. This can mean that even without a collision, the stress of trailing a wallaby or kangaroo in a vehicle can still endanger the animal.
Warning to motorists
In response to the video, a spokesperson from Victoria's Department of Transport and Planning warned motorists that the "unpredictable" nature of wallabies and kangaroos can pose a serious danger to both wildlife and road users.
"Preventing collisions with animals is an ongoing challenge as wildlife can be unpredictable and enter our roads at any time regardless of roadside conditions," the spokesperson told Yahoo News.
In situations like the one in the clip, the spokesperson advised the correct protocol to avoid a collision, saying motorists should never drive directly towards a wallaby or kangaroo. "If necessary, you should stop and turn your hazards on, if you can do so safely; or slow down and steer around the animal in a controlled manner," they added.
The CEO of Wildlife Victoria, Lisa Palma, issued an impassioned plea to drivers in response to the video. "Victoria's wildlife are under more pressure now than ever before from climate change, habitat destruction and urbanisation. We know Victorians care about wildlife, so please slow down and look out for our precious native animals," she said.
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