A PEAK road safety advocacy group has called on regional motorists to be “vigilant” on the road network given the risk of colliding with wildlife and wandering livestock.
The warning follows RAA senior road safety manager Charles Mountain spotting a myriad of native wildlife and livestock on the roadside during a visit to the region this week.
During this fact finding mission about condition of the road network, he witnessed eastern grey kangaroos, emus, goats and sheep grazing on the roadside during daylight.
“We saw a lot of kangaroos grazing in the middle of the day,” Mr Mountain said.
He said this debunked suggestions the risk of a colliding with kangaroo only occurred at dawn or dusk when the native animals were most active.
Mr Mountain said he was surprised with the number animals on the roadside in the middle of the day while travelling on regional roads.
He urged motorists to be particularly careful in areas where visibility on the roadside was hampered by bushes and vegetation.
“People should not swerve to avoid hitting a kangaroo, they should brake firmly,” Mr Mountain told The Border Watch.
He said swerving could cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, which could lead to tragic outcomes.
“It is a terrible feeling to hit an animal on the road,” Mr Mountain said.
He also urged to people to pull over after a collision and check on the condition of the animal as well as contact police or a wildlife rescue service if needed.
Regarding the high number of kangaroos seen during his visit, he said it appeared drought conditions in other regions could be pushing populations to greener areas.
Mr Mountain criss-crossed the region’s road network, including the Riddoch Highway and other arterial and country roads.
The RAA manager said he would release a report about his visit, which also included liaising with community members and stakeholders.
Mr Mountain would not be drawn into commenting about Grant District Council’s push to introduce a sustainable kangaroo harvest in the region.
The eastern grey kangaroo – which inhabits the Lower South East – is a protected species in the region.
This means sustainable commercial harvesting of the eastern grey kangaroo is banned.
A snapshot of road crashes in the South East suggest up to 40pc of vehicle collisions on rural roads were roads in the Mount Gambier district were contributed to kangaroos.
Insurance companies have also labelled Mount Gambier as a “hotspot” for animal collisions in state.
The RAA has announced its seven key pre-federal election priorities, which including duplication of the Dukes Highway from Tailem Bend to the SA/Victorian border.
The peak motoring advocacy group is also pushing for the recognition of the Riddoch Highway as part of the national highway network, making it eligible for Commonwealth funding of critical safety upgrades.