GUARDIANS: Tracey West and Lisa Nicol from Gympie Wildlife Rescue and two recovering possums
GUARDIANS: Tracey West and Lisa Nicol from Gympie Wildlife Rescue and two recovering possums Jacob Carson

How everyone can save wildlife these holidays

IT IS an all too common and unfortunate sight along our roads this time of year - the bloody remains of an animal caught and killed under the tyres of an unsuspecting motorist.

The summer holidays also means more cars on the roads than at any other time of the year, meaning the threat has never been higher for some of our most at-risk species.

"From what we've seen, the most common cases we get are actually kangaroos and wallabies, followed closely by possums and koalas," Gympie Wildlife Rescue spokeswoman Tracey West said.

"It's more common than you'd think and people are surprised at how close they come into town."

Enclosures run the length of Tracey's home, many containing seriously injured animals.

There are a number of causes that can bring new visitors, including attacks by cats and dogs, but the biggest offender is our roads by far.

"It isn't just vehicles moving at high speeds either," Mrs West added.

"Take a look at Gympie, and you'll see major work being done to the major roads and highways - naturally leading to habitat destruction as well."

Quietly pulling open a plastic basket on her counter-top, Mrs West revealed the tiny bodies of two baby possums.

They had clung to the body of their dead mother for hours after she was struck by a passing car - only alive due to a passer-by stopping and bringing them in.

"The word is getting out about not just driving past, people are stopping and checking on these animals," she said.

"Kids in particular are really good with this kind of stuff, and it's going a long way in saving these animals."

Of course, the goal is to avoid hitting the animals altogether, which is why Mrs West recommends making use of a hypersonic car whistle, which can be purchased cheaply and easily.

"These whistles emit a pitch at a frequency so high we can't hear it," she said.

"But they can and hopefully it'll mean they'll steer well away from your car when you're speeding past."

So what should you do if you hit or come across an animal when travelling?

According to Gympie Wildlife Rescue, an injured animal can often mean an aggressive or agitated animal as well.

Even for animals that aren't regarded as being particularly dangerous, it may try to defend itself.

"The most important thing when approaching an animal is to cover it's body with a blanket to calm it down," Mrs West says.

"There's a chance it could lash out or possibly injure itself further if you approach it directly."

If the animal is dangerous, a spokesman for Australia Zoo recommends keeping your distance and phoning the Wildlife Emergency Hotline on 1300 369 652 while waiting nearby.

This hotline directly connects to a network of veterinarians and animal rescuers around the state, ready to answer the call.

"Alternatively, if it's not a dangerous animal and if the motorist has the right type of tools they can bring the animal to Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital," the spokesman says.

"The hospital is a free service and our dedicated nurses and vets will take the patient and care for them as needed."

Gympie Times

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