'Dangerous' problem sparked by city's continuous urban sprawl

Locals have told Yahoo News the situation is dangerous for drivers as well as being a problem for animal welfare.

Grim images shared with Yahoo News Australia highlight the unseen impact of the country's relentless urban sprawl on the native wildlife population.

Taken northeast of Perth, they show a mob kangaroos standing next to a paddock that has been transformed into a construction site. While developments are financially lucrative for both construction companies and the local council, residents say they’ve been left to clean up the mess with little help.

Close up of kangaroos on a development site.
Kangaroos have been photographed next to the Henley Brook development site near Perth. Source: Supplied

“It’s heartbreaking, very depressing. There’s a feeling of hopelessness. Because there’s no one else who seems to be protecting our wildlife,” volunteer rescuer Lyn Manuel said. "There's so much work that has to be pushed into a day, but I'm also a mother, a grandmother and a wife."

The kangaroos in the images have become increasingly landlocked by a patchwork of new housing and transport projects, creating a situation that residents say is "dangerous" for drivers and the welfare of animals.

"I think my picture is very sad to be honest, just the way they are looking around confused," the photographer told Yahoo.

Left - a white box highlights a mob of three kangaroos on a development site. Right - an aerial view of the City of Swan.
Heartbreaking images show kangaroos displaced by development in the City of Swan. Source: Supplied/Google Earth/Airbus

'There’s no land anymore, they’ve just built it all out'

Yahoo spoke to several other residents in Swan who anecdotally reported collisions with kangaroos around the area.

One local woman, who requested her name be withheld, said the problems began 30 years ago with kangaroos getting pushed into residential areas.

“Every time they do a development, no one does anything about the kangaroos… There’s no land anymore, they’ve just built it all out,” she said.

“I hit this huge boomer kangaroo. Thank God I was in a Mercedes because it did a huge amount of damage. And then the poor thing had to suffer because there was no one around to put it out of its misery.”

Wildlife collisions jump 17 per cent

Increasing wildlife collisions is a situation reflected in offical data right across Western Australia, according to the state's motoring authority, the RAC.

A manager at RAC, Glen Walker, told Yahoo there's been a 17 per cent increase in claims involving animal collisions in Western Australia this year when compared to 2022. "Kangaroos account for 88 per cent of all animal collision claims," he added.

While the RAC was unable to speculate on the cause of the jump in numbers, Walker said collisions are often distressing, costly, but also "extremely dangerous."

The majority of incidents occurred during the April, May, June, and July during dawn and dusk.

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Council asked to respond to kangaroo concerns

Yahoo News Australia reached out to the City of Swan with several questions about displaced wildlife and resident concerns last week.

Following publication of this article, it responded with a written statement from Mayor Tanya Richardson.

“As one of Perth’s key growth Councils, the City of Swan understands the challenges of balancing the preservation of the environment with the need to provide new housing, employment and recreational opportunities. Working within Western Australia’s planning framework, the City endeavours to strike an appropriate balance," it said.

“The displacement of kangaroos can occur in parts of the City’s Urban Growth Corridor, and the City works with developers and State Government agencies to provide management plans to address displaced fauna. The City is running a 12-month trial in Brabham of deterrent devices designed to reduce collisions between kangaroos and vehicles.

“The City encourages local wildlife rescue groups to apply for funding support through our Grant and Sponsorship Program.”

While the City of Swan is one of Perth's fastest growing areas, it's not the only council area with a displaced population of kangaroos. In the City of Canning, the council has opted to trial relocating its landlocked mob.

Developer 'very serious' about environment

One project of particular interest to wildlife rescuers is the Henley Brook housing development which is being constructed on land that was until recently hobby farms.

While the images taken of the displaced kangaroos were taken on a road adjacent to the project, developer Mirvac's environmental assessment did not record any of the marsupials at the site.

One wildlife rescuer told Yahoo she had tried to raise the issue with the company, but it told Yahoo it had no record of anyone doing so.

“We have not been approached by any local wildlife groups to discuss concerns about kangaroos or other wildlife in the area or on our site, but would welcome any requests to discuss these matters and how we might be able to help,” it said.

“We take our environmental responsibility very serious and we are continuously looking at how we can reduce our impact on the planet and leave a positive legacy in our communities.”

Injured joeys can't go back where they came from, because back where they came from is just houses now.Lyn Manuel, Wildlife Care WA Inc

Wildlife rescuers pushed to brink after bushfires

Since we first spoke to Lyn Manuel in mid-November, she was struggling to keep up with the demands of her volunteer work. Every morning she would wake before 6am to prepare milk bottles for orphaned joeys.

"I then toilet them, clean out their pouches, but all the time the phone is ringing, with people saying: Can you, can you, can you," she said.

Lyn then heads out into the community, checking for joeys inside the pouches of kangaroos that have been hit by cars.

"The joeys get fed every four hours, the little ones every three hours. I have to plan when I can be home and when I can go out. A lot of the joeys are injured, so they need medication and vet trips. All that has to be put into a day, and all the time the phone keeps ringing."

The situation worsened after bushfires roared through the Swan area in late November, killing and injuring more wildlife.

On Monday evening, she was at a local veterinary clinic with 18 bobtail lizards in need of treatment for extensive burns. She was struggling to cope with the massive influx of bushfire victims on top of animals displaced by development.

“The wildlife is suffering in there, the kangaroos haven't got anywhere to go. They can’t go back to where they came from because it’s just houses now,” she said.

“So that’s the problem. But what’s the solution?”

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