ROOS RUN RIOT
Local communities on both sides of the river are counting the cost as kangaroo populations swell.
And there’s even a chance we are still yet to see the peak of it all, with the winter season cold dusky nights and foggy mornings - all but settling in.
A Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) survey in late 2017 estimated there could be more than 75,000 eastern grey kangaroos in the Benambra electorate alone, which includes Rutherglen and Wahgunyah.
But that number is, according to Member for Benambra Bill Tilley, “likely to be way short of the mark because it ignored the heavily forested areas which make up a huge part of the North East”.
Mr Tilley told The Free Press that the seriousness of the issue is spiraling out of control and more needs to be done to combat the problem.
“The problem is that this Labor Government and its hapless environment minister can’t even enforce its own plan let alone come up with something new,” he said.
“Everywhere I go people are complaining about kangaroos, whether that be in and around Rutherglen or on the urban fringes of Wodonga.
“Anecdotally I see the road kill, I hear the stories of cars being written off, fences wrecked and people having to dodge kangaroos and deer on our own roads.”
Local vehicle repairers have also confirmed they have seen an increase recently in cars needing repairs after kangaroo related incidents.
Kangaroos are more noticeable locally now more than ever, with many left dead on the side of the road.
It’s a concern that Rutherglen Hub Automotive Manager Rod Campbell has seen grow over the past six months.
“We have noticed a few more people come in for repairs due to kangaroo encounters on the road. We’ve probably had about five or six repairs because of the issue in the past six months which is more than any other period,” he told The Free Press.
“Of the damaged cars we’ve had, we’ve noticed that it’s mainly been because of early morning traffic. That’s the main time.
“We’ve had to repair front headlights, mud guards, crushed bonnets and other several dints. A lot of them usually need paint touch ups too.
“It’s gotten to the point where we’ve had people want to install bull bars onto their vehicles, on top of repairing any other damage. Also at our parent company, Ultra Project Services, we just bought some new cars and will be installing bull bars on all of them because of that kangaroo threat.
“A few of the guys at Ultra have hit kangaroos before.”
New data from NRMA Insurance found almost 10,000 of the 12,000 claims received for animal collisions in 2017 were due to collisions with kangaroos.
The large marsupial has been found to be the animal most likely to be involved in an accident with a motor vehicle with an 81per cent rating compared to wallabies at 5 per cent and wombats at 3 per cent.
NRMA research director Robert McDonald was recently reported as saying they had 700 claims in May.
“They are around in big numbers and they are attracted to the roads where water collects in the table drains on the sides of the road,” Mr McDonald said.
“They do a lot of damage to cars, several thousand dollars and, as an animal lover, having to deal with a severely injured animal is really distressing.”
He said collisions always went up in the winter months because of issues with visibility and warned those heading down to the snowfields this season needed to drive carefully.
“In winter, animals are on the move looking for food at sunrise and sunset and, combined with cooler weather conditions and reduced visibility, the chances of hitting an animal are more likely,” he said.
“Colliding with a kangaroo is not only traumatic for both the animal and driver but often causes considerable damage to cars and can also result in serious injury.”
Victoria was dishonourably crowned the country’s worst state for animal collisions with motorists more likely to be involved in an animal collision accident than any other state, according to the latest AAMI data. Animal crashes account for around 5-6 per cent of accidents although it is estimated that many of these incidents go under reported.
VicRoads’ latest available data shows 128 motorists were injured in collisions with animals over the last two years.
Member for Albury and former chair of Joint Standing Committee on Road Safety Greg Aplin said he hadn’t fielded concerns about the rising kangaroo population but under the 2018 NSW Budget, financial support was to be supplied to farmers to help with kangaroo numbers.
“On June 13, Premier Gladys Berejiklian, Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW John Barilaro and the Minister for Primary Industries Niall Blair visited Dubbo to announce increased financial support for farmers, including funding for mental health, key infrastructure including Doppler weather stations and streamlining kangaroo management,” Mr Aplin said.
“Under the strategy, the NSW Government is removing the need for physical tags and the ‘shoot and let lie’ conditions, expanding the commercial harvest zone in South East NSW, enabling more shooters to operate under each licence, and helping to connect landholders to commercial harvesters.
“The new strategy will make it easier for landholders to meet the harvest quotas set by the Commonwealth.
“In 2017, NSW met less than 20 per cent of the quota, which was set to maintain the longterm kangaroo population.”
Mr Tilley has also given a warning for people to stay aware whilst driving on open roads, given the concerning state of the kangaroo population.
“Clearly motorists need to be wary at dusk and dawn and if you happen to come across a kangaroo on foot be extremely cautious – a big buck fearing its cornered can do some significant damage.”
From seeing a kangaroo carcass spread on the side of our roads to dangerous near-misses or even potentially damaging collisions drivers are in fear on our roads.
Kangaroos are more noticeable locally now more than ever, many left dead on the side of the road.