What is the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program Roadkill Project?
We launched the Roadkill Project
in 2009 with the aim of collecting information about devil roadkill around the state that would allow us to determine how significant the threat of roadkill is to Tasmanian devil populations, particularly those populations decimated by Devil Facial Tumour Disease (DFTD).
The aims of the Roadkill Project are to identify roadkill hotspots so we can consider mitigation in these areas, continue to monitor the spread of DFTD, monitor persistence of devils in the landscape and, ultimately, to reduce Tasmanian devil roadkill. Involving the public helps greatly to extend our limited resources.
Since the project started we have received reports of over 3,000 road-killed devils (more than 350 per year) so it’s important we understand where and when devils are being hit in order to develop mitigation strategies to reduce the number of devils being killed on the road.
Who can get involved?
Anyone who is using Tasmanian roads can help by reporting any Tasmanian devil roadkill that they see.
How can people help?
Take care while driving at night and slow down between dusk and dawn.
Report sightings of road-killed Tasmanian devils to our hotline 0497 DEVILS (0497 338 457)
What is the most important thing to remember?
Safety first! Never put yourself or others in danger when collecting roadkill information. Never touch roadkill.
When I report a roadkill devil will the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program collect the animal?
The Program will only collect animals that are ‘of interest’ – that is, they relate to a specific project we are running.
What should I do if I see a roadkill devil?
Immediately call / text our hotline on 0497 DEVILS (0497 338 457)
What time of the day does most roadkill happen?
Most native Tasmanian animals, including Tasmanian devils, are nocturnal, so they are most likely to be hit on the roads between dusk and dawn.
What time of the year does most roadkill happen?
Between late spring and summer is the worst time of year for Tasmanian devils because this is the time when the inexperienced juveniles are dispersing – leaving home to find a home range of their own. Unfortunately, more devils on the move means more devils on the roads. To make matters worse, this coincides with an increase in traffic from summer visitors.
Another time that is critical in the life cycle of the Tasmanian devil is from around April to August when females are either pregnant or carrying pouch young. If an individual female was killed on the road during this period it would potentially mean the loss of five individuals.
Why is roadkill such a problem for Tasmanian devils?
Firstly, because they eat carrion, so any dead animals on the roads attracts them. To them the road smells like a restaurant.
Secondly, like us, devils travel along roads, it’s an easy way to get somewhere quickly.
Tasmanian devils in particular are very hard to see against a black road surface, especially when it is wet.
Studies suggest that to be able to see a devil and stop in time a driver should be doing no more than 40kmh. Most people travel about twice that speed on our country roads.
What is the most effective thing that I can do to prevent Tasmanian devil roadkill?
Take care while driving at night and slowing down between dusk and dawn.
Everyone can make a difference and help prevent Tasmanian devils being killed on our roads by following these simple things so spread the word!
What mitigation strategies are being used?
Virtual fence devices are a key part of the program’s roadkill mitigation strategy and have proven to be highly successful with a substantial reduction in the number of road killed animals in areas where they have been deployed.
Virtual fence devices
are an active electronic protection system that warns animals that a vehicle is on a road. The devices are activated by approaching headlights, which causes them to emit sound and light stimuli and alert animals to oncoming traffic.
The information above is also available as a downloadable pdf: Roadkill FAQs (182Kb)