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Article << Previous     |         Contents Vol 35(7)

Distribution and abundance of roadkill on Tasmanian highways: human management options

Alistair J. Hobday A B D, Melinda L. Minstrell C

A School of Zoology, Private Bag 5, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
B CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research, GPO Box 1535, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
C Department of Rural Health, Faculty of Health Science, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia.
D Corresponding author. Email: alistair.hobday@csiro.au
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An obvious sign of potential human impact on animal populations is roadkill. In Tasmania, this impact is perceived as relatively greater than in other Australian states, and is often noted by visitors and locals alike, such that calls for management action are common in the popular press. The goal of this three-year study was to assess the frequency and distribution of species killed on Tasmanian roads. Seasonal surveys were completed along five major routes, for a total of 154 trips. Over 15 000 km of road were surveyed and 5691 individuals in 54 taxa were recorded for an average roadkill density of 0.372 km-1. Over 50% of encountered roadkill could be identified to species, with common brushtail possums (Trichosurus vulpecula) and Tasmanian pademelon (Thylogale billardierii) the most common species identified, both in overall numbers and frequency of trips encountered. The 10 most common taxa accounted for 99% of the items observed. The seasonal occurrence, relationship with vehicle speed, and clustering in local hotspots for particular taxa all suggest that mitigation measures, such as vehicle speed reduction in specific areas, may be effective in reducing the number of animals killed. Mitigation measures, however, will not apply equally to all species and, in particular, success will depend on changing human behaviours.

Keywords: hotspots, vehicle speed, road mortality, traffic safety.

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