Plea to drivers to slow down over Christmas to help wildlife

Motorists can help save wildlife this holiday season with a few simple steps, an animal rescuer has advised.

Koalas, kangaroos, wombats and birds are most likely to be crossing roads at dawn and dusk, so it’s key that drivers slow down and only travel at these times when necessary.

Many streets cut through segments of bushland, forcing wildlife to negotiate traffic in order to reach food, water and breeding partners.

Native animals are particularly active during summer, as young individuals will be seeking new territory away from their parents.

A car and truck pass a koala crossing sign on Appin Road in Campbelltown.
Motorists can limit the likelihood of hitting wildlife by taking extra care driving at dawn and dusk. Source: Michael Dahlstrom

Find an injured animal – here is what to do

If an animal is hit by a car, even people untrained in animal care can help save lives, according to koala rescuer Ricardo Lonza.

Speaking with Yahoo News Australia at his residence in Campbelltown, NSW, while nursing an injured female koala named Abby, Mr Lonza said he has been brought to tears by preventable wildlife deaths.

Close by, on busy Appin Road, a mother and her joey were struck by a car, but despite one passer-by calling for help, other motorists continued to drive over them.

Left - Abby the koala. Right - Mr Lonza stands next to Abby's playpen in his house.
Wildlife carer Ricardo Lonza is volunteering with Sydney Wildlife to help koalas like Abby (left). Source: Michael Dahlstrom

By the time, Mr Lonza arrived, it was too late to save them. He hopes this summer motorists will do better.

By administering first aid to injured animals, and getting them help in a timely manner, wildlife can be saved.

“If people hit an animal, they should stop, but only if it’s safe to do so,” Mr Lonza said.

“It’s not always okay to pull over, I understand that, so in that case they should call a wildlife organisation as soon as possible.”

Motorists urged to check pouches for joeys

If the animal is found to be dead, then it’s important that it is moved away from the road, so predatory animals are not later hit while feeding on the carcass.

If a marsupial has been struck, then people should also ensure that they check the pouch for babies, which often survive even when their mother is killed.

Removing a joey from the pouch can be risky for the untrained, so it’s often best to put the adult’s body in a box and take it to a vet or wildlife carer who will accept it without charge.

Drivers should also be aware that joeys are sometimes ejected from the pouch upon impact with a vehicle, so it pays to check the surrounding area for displaced young.

Everyone can play a part in helping wildlife this season and ensure this summer is safe for humans and animals alike.

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