Drought: Wildlife collisions on rise due to dry conditions

HOTSPOTS: Kangaroos accounted for 92.5 per cent of the top five most commonly hit animals on the road.Photo: SIMONE DE PEAK
HOTSPOTS: Kangaroos accounted for 92.5 per cent of the top five most commonly hit animals on the road.Photo: SIMONE DE PEAK

THE long running drought is causing a spike in animal collisions across the region with four Central West locations named as hotspots.

Currently, 96.3 per cent of the state is in drought or drought-affected and with a lack of feed many animals have been wandering onto roads.

Kangaroos accounted for 92.5 per cent of the top five most commonly hit animals on the road with 12,922 of them involved in a crash just last year.

This was followed by wombats (478 hit on the road), cattle (286), dogs (154) and cats (133).

Dubbo tops the list for the most likely place to have an animal collision in regional NSW with 261 reported crashes during 2018.

Mudgee ranked third on the list with 148 crashes, while Orange ranked seventh (109 collisions) and Bathurst ninth (93).

The spike in collisions resulted in a jump in the number of claims to insurers.

Last year, NRMA Insurance received 14,752 claims for an animal collision, which is a 21.7 per cent jump on the 12,122 received in 2017.

NRMA Insurance research specialist Chris Emerson said the drought was having a major impact on the number of animal collisions.

"We are seeing increased claims due to the number of stock and wildlife on the roads looking for food and water due to the dryer conditions," he said.

Even without the drought, Mr Emerson warned that this season was the riskiest time of year for an animal collision.

"Our data shows that winter is the riskiest time for crashes involving animals as twilight coincides with peak hour traffic," he said.

DRY TIMES: currently, 96.3 per cent of the state is in drought or drought-affected. Image: NSW DPI

DRY TIMES: currently, 96.3 per cent of the state is in drought or drought-affected. Image: NSW DPI

"We generally see more collisions during cooler months, however drivers should be aware that animal collisions can happen any time."

Motorists who see an animal on the road while driving are encouraged to break and not swerve as this may cause a collision with other vehicles.

"Wildlife can be unpredictable and often drivers won't get prior warning before an animal appears in front of them," Mr Emerson said.

"Colliding with wildlife is not only traumatic for both the animal and driver but can cause considerable damage to cars and also result in injury."

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