National Road Safety Week might seem to be a bit out of our lane for the RSPCA – but far from it.

Beautiful scenery, lush forests and abundant wildlife are just some of the drawcards bringing in record numbers of tourists to Tasmania.

But the roadkill toll is also increasing. So much so, that Tasmania is earning the reputation as the ‘roadkill capital of the world’.

It has been estimated on average around 32 animals die every hour on Tasmania’s roads — that’s more than one defenceless animal killed every two minutes.

These figures are the result of data collected by the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program through the Roadkill TAS smartphone app. Over a period from 2018 until August last year, 59,990 reports were submitted. This included almost 37,000 red-necked wallabies, 11,000 brushtail possums, and 4,700 Tasmanian pademelons.

Just under 950 Tasmanian devils were also reported, a concerning figure for an endangered animal population. Next to devil facial tumour disease, road-kill is the greatest threat that devils face, as they are scavengers and often feed on other animals killed on the roads

Jan Davis, CEO of RSPCA Tasmania, says Tasmanians needed to move on from the idea that roadkill is just a normal part of life.

“On one hand, it means we’ve got a fabulous amount of wildlife in our landscape – and that’s a real positive – but it also signals that we’ve got hotspots where wildlife and cars interact,” she said.

We have to decide whether we want the wildlife that Tasmania is famous for, or whether we just want to drive as though there are no animals about.

“If people understand the reasons why so many animals are being injured and killed on our roads, they can change their own behaviour to minimise the risk of harming animals. The simple facts are that, if we just make some very small changes, we could see roadkill in Tasmania halved.”

You can help by being aware of your surroundings.

In dry times, the little bit of rain we do get will run off straight to the side of the road. That’s where the green grass is, so that’s going to attract animals. Don’t throw your apple core or other food scraps out the car window because that draws more animals to the roadsides.

Roads form pathways for animals and provide water sources. Many native animals (like the Tasmanian devil) travel hundreds of kilometres in the space of a month. They have to cross roads to get where they’re going, whether that’s to find water or food – and that increases the risk of death or injury.

Road speeds and road conditions also contribute to the huge animal road toll. Studies have shown that a 20% reduction in speed is estimated to reduce roadkill by about 50%.

“If you see roadkill, there’s no better indicator that there’s a risk of running over an animal. So slow down from dusk to dawn,” Ms Davis said.

It is not only the animals that are at risk, though. The reaction of drivers unfamiliar with so many animals on roads also raises safety issues.

National research shows that 5.5% of all serious crashes involved people hitting or swerving to avoid wildlife. Anecdotally, there are indications that the situation is worse in Tasmania.

Having people who are attuned to the driving conditions which suit Tasmania’s roads will not only reduce the number of animals killed on our roads, but it will also improve road safety and outcomes for all motorists.

How you can help:

  • Download the Roadkill Tas app from your app store.
  • Contact Bonorong Wildlife Rescue on 0447 2​64 625 (all hours) for assistance in helping injured or orphaned wildlife.

Jan Davis, CEO – RSPCA Tasmania
Mobile: 0409 004 228