WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT – Drivers are being urged to slow down after a family of wombats were mowed down early on Tuesday morning.
The adult female and male wombats were found dead by a motorist just after 5am, on the ACT border town of Stromlo.
Both animals had been left on the road and there was a significant distance between them. Rescuers also noted the road is straight and wide, leading them to believe no attempt was made to stop or render assistance.
Heartbreakingly, a wombat baby was seen running into nearby bushland following the discovery.
Kim Butler is a volunteer wildlife carer with ACT Wildlife who specialises in monitoring wombat health and the incident has left her heartbroken.
“How didn’t the driver see them?” she said.
“There’s enough distance to stop even. They’ve just ploughed through.
“I’d say they were hit by something big because they weren’t run over, but the male had severe head trauma.”
Rescuer's blunt words to motorist who killed wombats
Ms Butler spent hours searching for the baby on Tuesday but was unable to find the frightened youngster.
“The juvenile probably doesn’t comprehend death,” she said.
“There’s a slim chance now that it may survive, but it really depends on what it encounters.”
Asked what she would say to the driver of the vehicle, Ms Butler said it would be too ferocious to be publishable.
Reconsidering, she settled on a simple statement: “Just slow down”.
“It's just heartbreaking,” she added.
“And yet it’s just so bloody common. We're losing so many on our roads.”
Australia's wildlife suffering steep decline
News of the wombats’ deaths came as Environment Minister Tanya Plibersek released a new Action Plan aimed at stopping future extinctions of Australia’s plants and animals.
While common wombats are not currently listed as threatened, Ms Butler is concerned if more isn’t done to protect them from mange, motorists and habitat loss, the species could face serious decline.
Last December, bogong moths which once migrated across Australia in their billions were listed by the International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List after numbers plummeted.
On Tuesday, the federal government amended its Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act to protect 15 new species which face extinction.
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