Animal Alert!

Watch out for animals on rural roads

It is your responsibility to avoid hazards including stray animals on the road. This information is designed to increase your awareness of the risk and dangers.

Our road system covers vast distances through some of the most remote and uninhabited regions of the world. We are responsible for the state highways, national highways and main roads within Western Australia that provide the principal overland link between major regional centres. Local authorities are responsible for all other public roads.

When travelling on either national, state or local rural roads, you may come across a diverse range of wildlife and farm animals along the roadside. Many of the major rural highways are unfenced due to the mass distance, therefore no barriers are present to prevent wild or pastoral animals wandering across the road. Animals tend to be attracted to roadsides because this is where open drains collect water and provide the best feed.

You may come across many different animals on the road when driving in Western Australia. Some of these will be farm animals (pastoral stock) while others will be wild. These include: kangaroos, horses, camels, goats, emus, sheep, cattle, donkeys, dogs, rabbits, foxes, and oxen.

Eagles and other birdlife may feed on the carcasses of previously-struck animals on the roadway and be a hazard to approaching vehicles as they attempt to take off. Never assume that a large bird will be able to fly out of your way in time.

All of these animals can present a danger if they surprise or distract the driver. Some of the larger animals like goats and emus can be as disastrous in a collision as a kangaroo or horse.

 

Kangaroos

Kangaroos are native to Australia and are found in large numbers throughout Western Australia. They are a constant risk along any rural road, including the major highways and main roads, because they are attracted to the road where puddles of water form after rains.

Kangaroos can weigh up to 90 kilograms and if you collide with one, especially at high speed, it may result in loss of control of your vehicle, major vehicle damage, serious personal injury or even death. It is not unknown for struck kangaroos to be thrown up over the bonnet (hood) of a car and crash through the windscreen, severely injuring the occupants.

A sign warning of kangaroos may be placed by the road where there is a known high risk of kangaroos gathering alongside the road or crossing the road at a particular locality. Drivers are advised to take heed of any such sign and slow down, scanning visually from side to side and watch out for any movement from the edges of the road. However kangaroos are so widespread throughout Western Australia that the absence of a warning sign does not mean there is no risk. You must always be vigilant about scanning the road for kangaroos - especially at dusk and dawn.

Kangaroos, like all wild animals, are unpredictable and can move very suddenly and quickly and may be panicked by the sight and sound of a vehicle. They also tend to gather and travel in groups (mobs) and if you see one by the road or on the road, chances are there are others nearby. Do not just focus on the one you have seen.

Kangaroos usually rest during the day and are most active between dusk and dawn. Travelling at high speeds at night on rural roads can significantly increase your risk of colliding with a kangaroo. Where possible, limit your driving to the daylight hours. If you must drive at night, place your headlights on high beam (but dip them for oncoming traffic), reduce your speed and constantly scan the edges of the road. If you see a vehicle in front of you which has slowed or stopped, the driver may have spotted a kangaroo or other hazard - slow down and be prepared to stop.

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Horses and cattle

In addition to kangaroos, in some parts of the remote pastoral regions of northern Western Australia there is a relatively high incidence of straying horses and cattle. Typically the horses are wild, while the cattle may belong to a pastoral station.

Many major roads such as the Great Northern Highway pass through large cattle stations where stock may roam at will.

It is not unusual for these animals to wander across public roads in search of feed and water and again, due to the huge distances involved, fencing is impractical or limited to certain areas. Drivers should exercise similar precautions as they would against kangaroos and be aware that horses and cattle may even be more easily startled by an approaching vehicle and act very unpredictably.

The hours of darkness are also a particularly high risk travel time and where possible, limit your driving to daylight hours in good visibility.

 

Bushfires

Bushfires are an ever-present danger in rural Australia, especially in the wooded regions of the east and south-west of the country.

If you are driving through or near a bushfire, always remember that wildlife will be panicked and fleeing the fire front and even if the emergency is some distance away, wildlife may still be attempting to exit the general area, often fleeing across roads.

Farm and station animals (stock) may also have escaped or have been released to evade the fire, adding to the number of distressed animals. This presents an increased risk of colliding with an animal on the road.

 

Further Information 

For further information, please submit an online form.

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Modified: 02 Aug 2016