The Tasmanian government released a new roadkill app last week in an effort to reduce the incidence of wildlife roadkill on Tasmanian roads, but a volunteer from Tasmania's largest wildlife rescue service said the focus is in the wrong place.
Rowan Wigmore was a wildlife rescue volunteer across various services in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland before moving to Tasmania three years ago.
He now volunteers at Bonorong Wildlife Rescue and says the focus should be on advocating for volunteers and educating the public.
"I don't use the app. There's so much roadkill you'd be stopping and entering data into your phone every two seconds," Mr Wigmore said.
The Roadkill Reporter from the Tasmanian government works by recording the location and species of roadkill with an option to add a photo.
"I don't think this will reduce the number of roadkill. It's a fox looking after the hen house as far as the government is concerned," Mr Wigmore said.
Minister for Environment and Climate Change Roger Jaensch said the Tasmanian government recognised that roadkill is a challenging issue to manage and impacts many native species in Tasmania.
"That is why the Department of Natural Resources and Environment Tasmania has developed the Tasmanian Roadkill Reporter, which allows observations of roadkill to be recorded quickly and easily," Mr Jaensch said.
"We know the two most effective methods to reduce roadkill are increasing driver awareness and drivers slowing down in high-risk times and locations."
Tasmania wears the unfortunate title of the roadkill capital of Australia, where an estimated 32 animals die every hour on Tasmanian roads.
A severe shortage
Mr Wigmore said the number of wildlife rescuers is dwindling, and many are struggling to meet the demand of injured animals.
"It's not just the rescuers but the rehabilitators too. The sanctuaries and people who look after animals are chock-a-block full," he said.
"You might get asked to pick up an animal from the vet and hold it until a carer is found, and legally if you're not a registered rehabilitator, you can't hold that animal.
"If they can't find a rehabilitator, the animal returns to the vet and is euthanised."
In an earlier interview, Mr Wigmore told The Examiner volunteers have to make the difficult decision to put a sick or injured animal "out of its misery," often by spinal severance or cervical dislocation followed by brain destruction, decapitation, or blunt force trauma to the head in accordance with Tasmanian law as few volunteers have gun licenses.
He said Tasmanians have become desensitised to roadkill, and accepted it as a part of life.
"You just see it everywhere, and there's this attitude that they are the pest, they're the ones that damage the car and slow you down from getting from A to B," Mr Wigmore said.
"We've just become so used to seeing roadkill, it's become part of life. No one really cares about it or gets motivated."
He said he'd like to see the government incorporate wildlife control and protection on new roads.
"It's just not acceptable to fang along at 110 kilometres per hour in the middle of the night on roads that go through forest with wildlife there," Mr Wigmore said.
"I'd tell motorist to slow down but no one's ever going to heed that."
He said should someone hit an animal to first take care of their own safety.
"Stop somewhere where it's not dangerous. If the animal is dead straight away, do a pouch check if you can and telephone a wildlife care group," he said.
"If you're able to contain the animal's safely, by all means do so and take it to the nearest vet."
He said many people don't realise vets in Australia are required by law to treat wildlife free of charge.
"If the animal is injured and you can stay with it until a rescuer comes that would be excellent but again, we don't have many so it may not be a viable option."
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The NRE also has information available on sharing the road with wildlife and what to do in the case of an accident.
According to the NRE website, data collected from the Roadkill Reporter app will be uploaded to the Natural Values Atlas and an interactive map.
Mr Wigmore called for a statewide number in Tasmania people can call for these situations.
"Many other states have this. It's a simple number people can remember that diverts you to the nearest wildlife group," he said.
"There should be more publicity about the plight of animals but it doesn't seem to be something people here are interested in."
Bonorong Wildlife Rescue service can be reached at 0447 264 625.
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