Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary

Protecting Our Precious Wildlife 
Driving Tasmania’s roads it would be easy to believe that roadkill was a state sport. Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary established Tasmania’s first 24 hour wildlife rescue in 2009 to respond to the number of animals being injured and orphaned on our roads. This Girl went looking for some answers on why so many of Tasmania’s wildlife can be found dead on our roads. Here’s what Bonorong Director, Greg Irons, had to say.
Lochie the Lucky Sugar Glider, image courtesy of Bonorong
There seems to be a lot of road kill on Tasmanian roads. Am I being too sensitive? How does this compare nationally? Should we be worried?
It is estimated that up to half a million native animals are killed by cars each year in Tasmania, making our roads deadlier for wildlife, per capita, than anywhere else in the world. This means that there is a constant stream of injured and orphaned animals that need transport to veterinarians, rehabilitation centres, or qualified orphan carers.
Vehicles don’t discriminate between species, so all wildlife from wallabies, wombats and possums to Tasmanian devils and Wedge-tailed eagles are at risk. For the most part, these animals are brush tail possums, pademelons and wallabies that might be crossing the road or feeding on the abundant green roadside grass. However, road traffic is also a particular problem for
carnivorous animals such as quolls, wedge tailed eagles and Tasmanian devils that come to the roads to feed on other animals that have been killed there. These three species in particular are facing other challenges from disease, habitat loss, and competition from feral cats so the added pressure from car strike can have a disproportionate impact on their populations. For instance,
it is thought that around 3 000 Tasmanian devils are killed by cars each year. Combined with the massive impact that the Devil Facial Tumour Disease has had on the species, the devils are facing real threats to their survival.
Tasmanian Devil, image courtesy of Bonorong
Scary fact – 3,400 native animals are killed every day on Australian roads or 1.24 million animals per year.
Is there a certain mentality amongst Tasmanian drivers we need to combat?
We live in a place full of animals. If an animal is exotic or rare we are all a little more careful and protective of it but if we see them every day we become normalised. But even the most common animals have a role to play in the ecosystem.
How do you respond to critics that say there are too many native animals/no normal predators without the Tasmanian Tiger, so roadkill helps manage numbers?
There are higher numbers of some species than there was in the past, largely thanks to the conversion of forests to grasslands. However, cars are not selective and will hurt any animal in their path including endangered species. That means roadkill only magnifies the loss of the Tasmanian tiger as our apex predator.
Furthermore, car strike is a slow, painful, inhumane way to die and if programs are needed to manage population numbers they would be best carefully managed and not left to pot luck.
Image courtesy of Bonorong
What role does Bonorong play with native animal rescue?
The Bonorong Wildlife Rescue Program currently involves over 1 000 community volunteers across the state prepared to capture and transport animals in need to carers, veterinarians or wildlife sanctuaries. Volunteer training is a time intensive program but one that has seen enormous results, with approximately 20 000 rescue calls received since the program began. This means more injured and orphaned animals are reaching care with the possibility of survival.
What can we do to avoid killing native animals?
Slow down between dusk and dawn
Studies have shown that fewer animals are killed when speeds are lower. As many of our native species are nocturnal (mainly active at night) or crepuscular (mainly active at dawn and dusk) they are often found near roads when it is the most difficult to see them. By slowing down at night, drivers are able to see animals earlier and have time to avoid hitting them.
Baby Bettong Fry, image courtesy of Bonorong
Check for joeys
Tasmania is home to many species of marsupial (including possums, wombats, and Tasmanian devils) who keep their joeys safe inside a pouch. When marsupials are killed by cars, these joeys are often uninjured and able to be hand raised to adulthood. If drivers find a marsupial on the road, the pouch should be checked for joeys. If a joey is found, the 24-hour Bonorong Wildlife
Rescue Program can be called on 0447 264 625 (0447 ANIMAL) for advice.
Remove road kill from the road
Scavengers such as Tasmanian devils are attracted to the roads by the availability of food. To prevent these animals from being hit by cars themselves, road kill should be moved several metres off the road if it is safe for the driver to do so.
Thumper the wombat, image courtesy of Bonorong
Keep cats indoors
Our roads are not the only danger to native animals. According to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy every cat allowed to roam outside kills approximately five native animals each night. With one in four households owning a pet cat, the pressure on wildlife is immense. Domestic cats act on instinct and continue to hunt even after being fed. Cats are also a prime carrier of the parasite that causes toxoplasmosis, a fatal condition that leads to irreversible central nervous system damage in a wide array of native animals such as wallabies and pademelons.
Take care before you mow
Walk through the back yard before mowing and check for hidden animals. Many native animals, like blue-tongue lizards, like to hide in long grass or next to fences. When lawns are mowed or edges trimmed, these animals are often left with serious injuries.
Use multiple dose baits if needed
If you must use baits, use multiple dose types so that predators do not receive a large amount with their meal. The baits used to control pest species, such as snails or rats, can find their way to other animals, such as blue tongue lizards and birds of prey and even pet dogs, and poison them just as effectively as the intended target.
Tawny Frogmouth, image courtesy of Bonorong
Don’t feed the animals
Let native animals remain wild. It is popular to feed human food to our animal friends, and many people still consider it an act of kindness. However, many of our foods can cause wildlife to become ill or injured. Further, long-term feeding can encourage animals to live close to humans where there are other dangers such as cats and cars.
That’s sound advice to help keep our native animals safe.
If you want more information on Bonorong, find out more on their website here.
Members of the public can join the Bonorong Wildlife Rescue Program or request more information by emailing
Find them at 593 Briggs Road, Brighton.
Call them on 6268 1184.
Like them on Facebook here.

Thanks to Greg and the team at the Bonrong Wildlife Sanctuary for their input.

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