Vets and rescuers plead with drivers to watch for animals

THOSE who are thinking of setting out for a trip this weekend are asked to be especially careful, with May marking the start of “animal strike season” according to new data.

Cooler daytime temperatures from May onwards leads to more animals venturing onto roads and into new areas in search of food and warmth, which unfortunately leads to confrontations with cars.

“Over the last three years, we’ve seen more than 1100 insurance claims come in for animal strikes in May alone,” RACQ spokesperson Lucinda Ross said.

The new information, compiled from insurance claims data from recent years, paints a grim picture ahead of the weekend, when more cars are expected to be on the roads following the loosening of Covid-19 restrictions.

“While it’s great Queenslanders can get back out on the roads to enjoy a scenic drive within 50 kilometres of their home, it’s important drivers take caution on rural roads where wildlife might be trying to cross or look for food,” Ms Ross said.

“Striking an animal at speed can cause huge damage to your vehicle and not only harm the animal, but potentially put you and your passengers at risk.”

Sadly, it is usually the animals who emerge worst off during these incidents.

The Small Animal Hospital at UQ Gatton deals with anywhere between 30 to 50 animals – both domestic pets and native wildlife – struck by vehicles each month, but the average number of cases they deal with doesn’t reflect RACQ’s data, for one unfortunate reason.

“We don’t see any higher incidence of owned or wild animals in May that have been hit by cars, as most wild animals sadly don’t survive the impact,” Associate Professor and Avian Specialist Dr Bob Doneley said.

Furthermore, the fewer number of cars on the road due to the current lockdown and isolation orders had not reduced the number of animals brought in for treatment.

“We’re not seeing any change in numbers presented due to Covid-19, although we are seeing lots of cases referred by other practices who are dealing with social distancing by seeing few clients and patients,” Mr Doneley said.

As most wild animals don’t survive encounters with cars, he said the UQ vets were not expecting to see a rise in number of animals brought in once more vehicles are out on the roads again.

In an effort to reduce the number of vehicles damaged, and animals injured or killed on the roads, RACQ advised drivers to take precautions.

“If you’re driving at dawn or dusk, you’re more likely to see wildlife because this is when they’re coming in to feed on the side of the road where the grass is often greener,” Ms Ross said.

“Never swerve to avoid hitting an animal. It can put you at greater risk of causing a collision with another vehicle or obstacle. If it’s safe, try and brake, and pull over and call for help if your car is damaged.”

Those who injure an animal, or come across one that appears to be injured, are urged to take it directly to a vet, or stay with the animal until a carer can arrive.

“If you hit or find an injured animal please call a carer to come and get it,” local animal rescuer Kathy Silk said.

“If you are unable to stay please give an exact a location as you can and leave a marker.”

Even if an animal appears to be dead, there is a chance dead animals may have a baby in their pouch or hiding nearby, so taking the moment to stop and check can save a life.

Dragging away dead animals from the road or roadside is also important, as the corpses can attract scavengers which are then also at risk of being hit.

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