The Free Press (Corowa) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JAR­RYD BARCA

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.

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