Dunsborough resident Lena Kaule witnessed a distressing sight last week when she came across a dead kangaroo on the side of a road with its young joey still trying to feed off its mum.
Ms Kaule said she saw the carcass then noticed the joey jumping around quite anxious and making a “shocking” noise almost like a scream.
“The little one kept sucking on the dead kangaroo trying to get milk and must have been doing it for hours or even days,” she said.
“They joey did not want to go, it did not want to leave the carcass, it ran with another mob then came back, you could just see in its eyes how stressed and terrified it was.”
As the evening moved in Ms Kaule contacted a ranger who advised her to leave the joey until the morning because trying to catch it could distress the animal further.
The next morning when Ms Kaule cycled down Commonage Road she noticed how much trash and roadkill was on the side of the road, and the joey from the day before which had since been run over.
“I dragged it off the road and into the bush, I told my landlord and luckily they had a bobcat which we were going to use to bury the mother kangaroo,” she said.
“We decided to bury them together so I went back and got the little one, we dug a hole and buried them both together.
“So many people just keep driving when they hit a kangaroo.”
Sadly, Busselton ranks the second highest place in WA where vehicles collide with wildlife, of those collisions, nine out of ten drivers hit a kangaroo, according to claims data from AAMI.
Fostering and Assistance for Wildlife Needing Aid volunteer Suzanne Strapp said it was no great surprise given the increase of growth in the region.
Ms Strapp said it was a complex problem and at some point in time everyone would hit a kangaroo on the road.
“It is not rare it is common and sadly, it is because of development that has taken place. That part near Amelia Park is terrible and there is nothing there like a fence or anything to deter them,” she said.
“For international visitors it is really difficult, everyone feels responsible and guilty about it, but it will just happen.”
Ms Strapp said the when a kangaroo was hit the sad reality was the animal did not always die, and people should take a personal responsibility to check on the animal’s welfare provided it was safe to do so.
“There is always that wonderful person who stops after that person and puts their own life at risk by stopping on the side of the road,” she said.
“Number one, do not stop unless it is safe because people stop to look at the kangaroo and get killed themselves or their car is hit on the side.
“People get caught up in looking after the kangaroo and forget about their personal safety or that of their family.”
Ms Strapp said the other safety issue was when people approached kangaroos and under no circumstances should people try to bundle up the animal and put it in their car.
“An irate dying kangaroo could do all sorts of damage and I am surprised it does not happen more often.”
If a kangaroo was in the middle of the road or on a road reserve, Ms Strapp said it was the responsibility of Main Roads to remove it.
Ms Strapp said people might notice an animal which had been spray painted or had a ribbon on it, which meant the animal had already been checked and dealt with.
FAWNA volunteer Margaret Lanier said the biggest problem was if the animal was still alive, then people should cover its body and head with a blanket and move the animal off the road from behind by pulling the tail.
If an animal was struck in the middle of the night, Ms Strapp said no-one would attend in a regional area and there was a matter of personal responsibility to alleviate the animal’s suffering.
“That is really hard for people to do,” she said.
When joeys are found in a pouch people should check if the animal is small, pink, wriggly and attached to its mother’s teat.
Ms Lanier said joeys attached to a teat should be left alone as the animal would weigh less than 200 grams and die no matter how much care it was given.
She said if the joey was off the teat people could pull it out and wrap it up in something warm and soft, and phone the wild care helpline within 12 hours for more information on what to do.
“Keep them in a quiet spot with a hot water bottle away from children and dogs,” she said.
“If an animal is outside the pouch leave it alone, make sure the mother is off the road, notify the wild care helpline and someone will come out with a net.
“Otherwise you will have buckleys of catching a joey, leave it with its mother until you can get help from someone who knows what they are doing.
“Once they are five kilograms you then have the trauma of reestablishing a joey and feeding an animal which does not like you.”
If you need assistance with injured wildlife please contact FAWNA on 0438 526 660 or the DBCA Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055.
Please be mindful these lines are manned by volunteers and while the phone line is manned 24-hours volunteers may not be able to respond until the morning.
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