Record number of kangaroo crashes as animals endure harsh weather
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Record number of kangaroo crashes as animals endure harsh weather

ACT rangers are being called to a record number of crashes involving kangaroos as more of the animals come into Canberra's suburbs to look for food.

Just 69.6 millimetres of rain was recorded at Canberra Airport between March and June, marking a 14-year low for that period, while temperatures have plummeted as low as minus 7.3 degrees this winter.

More kangaroos are moving into suburban Canberra.

More kangaroos are moving into suburban Canberra.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

ACT Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said greater numbers of kangaroos were moving out of the bush and towards roads in search of greenery as a result, often with fatal consequences.

He said the number of crashes involving kangaroos peaked in July and August every year, but the combination of extremely cold and dry conditions had 2018 on track to be a record year for kangaroo-related collisions.

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"It's almost like the perfect storm for doing it hard if you're a kangaroo," he said.

"We're having rangers called out to more kangaroos than ever before because we’re getting all those factors coming together this year."

ACT Parks and Conservation senior ranger Nick Daines with a mob of kangaroos at Mount Taylor reserve, near Athllon Drive.

ACT Parks and Conservation senior ranger Nick Daines with a mob of kangaroos at Mount Taylor reserve, near Athllon Drive.Credit:Elesa Kurtz

Mr Iglesias said ACT rangers were called to 2889 incidents in which they pulled a kangaroo off the road or shot the animal in 2016. That number dropped slightly to 2634 incidents in 2017.

On July 17, just over halfway through 2018, Mr Iglesias said there had already been 2291 incidents this year.

"The way we’re tracking, it’s likely we’re going to have more than 4000 kangaroo incidents by the time the year is done," Mr Iglesias said.

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"That is typical of dry years because these animals are under stress.

"They’re looking for food, which means they’re more mobile and it always ends up with more roadkill."

Mr Iglesias said there were tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of kangaroos in the ACT.

He said rangers had identified a number of hotspots for collisions, with Limestone Avenue, Fairbairn Avenue, roads around Red Hill Nature Reserve, Hindmarsh Drive, Mugga Way, Tharwa Drive and the Monaro Highway among them.

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A recent thesis by Australian National University student and former ranger Bethany Dunne found that most kangaroos were hit close to core habitat, such as nature reserves, on roads with a speed limit of 60km/h or more.

An Environment, Planning and Sustainable Directorate study also found that the winter overlap between dusk and peak-hour traffic flows likely contributed to the increase in crashes involving kangaroos at this time of the year.

"When you think about the ACT, it’s called the bush capital for a reason," Mr Iglesias said.

"There are kangaroos living everywhere, and the critical message is that if you are driving at one of those [hotspots] during the mornings, when you’re going to work and in the evenings, when you’re going home, you have to expect that there are going to be kangaroos around."

Mr Iglesias said anyone involved in a collision with a kangaroo should first make sure they were OK, then call Access Canberra on 13 22 81 and ask for a wildlife ranger to be called out.

"The next thing is not to put themselves in danger of being hit by an oncoming car, by trying to deal with a kangaroo that they’ve left injured on the road," he said.

Blake Foden is a reporter at the Sunday Canberra Times. He has worked as a journalist in Australia, New Zealand and the UK.