Motorists in East Gippsland are being warned to take care on the regionʼs roads after locals have reported an increase in wildlife being found dead by the roadside.
Kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and echidnas have been sighted on a number of major arterials around the area, including the Princes Highway, the Great Alpine and Lindenow- Dargo roads.
With tourists converging on popular holiday resorts in East Gippsland, wildlife carers are concerned more animals are likely to be hit.
“The moisture on the side of the road at night is attracting animals looking for food,” Donna Zabinskas from Badgar Emergency Wildlife Rescue said.
“There’s no food out there because of the drought, so they’re on the move searching for a food source,” Ms Zabinkskas said.
“If people can take 10 kilometres off their speedo, that would be of assistance.”
Marlo resident, Val Hickey, takes care of injured kangaroos at a rescue shelter on her property.
She recently rescued a joey after its mother was killed by a car.
Mrs Hickey said the drought and heat were flushing wildlife out of their usual habitat and putting them in harms way.
She urged people if they hit an animal to stop and pull them off the road.
Mrs Hickey pleaded with motorists to “please slow down when you see the wildlife sign posts, especially at dawn and dusk.”
“Nominating a passenger as a wildlife watcher is the most sensible thing you can do,” she said.
VicRoads has a policy of removing dead animals from the side of its roads so as not to impede traffic, while many local roads are the domain of the East Gippsland Shire.
A VicRoads spokesman told the Advertiser dead animals are usually tagged with a pink cross and are picked up as soon as possible, usually within a few hours or over the next 24- 48 hours.
“The tagging is done as a warning to motorists, so that they’re made more visible,” the spokesman said.
While it’s widely believed that the fires in the area may have also driven more wildlife out of their usual sanctuaries, VicRoads says tourists travelling into East Gippsland should be “mindful of wildlife and that they do need to cross the roads.”
“Our advice really at any time of the year is for people travelling into the area to be aware of wildlife close to the roads.
“Motorists should slow down and stick to the speed limits.”
VicRoads says if people spot anything on the road, they should call the hazards line on 13 11 70 so animals are picked up as soon as practicable and aren’t obstructing the roadways.
IMAGE: Marlo wildlife carer, Val Hickey, with Yambo the joey, who was rescued from her motherʼs pouch after she was struck and killed by a car. (PS)