Trialing the effectiveness of virtual fence devices on Tasmania's west coast

​​New research has found that small, easily transported and installed virtual fence devices have potential to substantially reduce wildlife roadkill in Tasmania.

The paper ‘Roadkill mitigation: trialing virtual fence devices on the west coast of Tasmania’ has been published today (Wednesday 28 November 2018) in the Australian Mammalogy journal.

Lead author Dr Samantha Fox from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP) says the paper shows that the devices have a significant impact on reducing the roadkill of Australian native species. 

“Tasmania has an abundance of medium-sized, nocturnal macropods and this together with narrow windy roads and fast speed limits, results in a high roadkill rate,” Dr Fox says. “We studied roadkill on a single stretch of the Arthur River/Marrawah Road on the west coast for a three-year period to determine whether virtual fence devices are effective in reducing roadkill.” 

“The results show a reduction in total roadkill, and that of the common species (pademelons and Bennetts wallabies), by 50 percent. This suggests that these devices have enormous potential to substantially reduce roadkill rates.” 

Dr Sam Fox with virtual fence

Dr Fox says the data revealed that while the virtual fence devices significantly reduce the number of animals killed on the road, they do not completely remove the risk of animals being hit by vehicles.

“This confirms the belief that the devices alert animals to the oncoming traffic rather than frighten them away from the road altogether,” Dr Fox explains.

In the trial area chosen for this study, Tasmanian pademelons and Bennetts wallabies comprise the bulk of the roadkill events across the three-year period. 

The paper found that installing virtual fence devices on roads that suffer from roadkill “hotspots” should provide some advance warning to wildlife in the vicinity of the road.

“Many unique mammal species no longer found in the wild on mainland Australia are still found in Tasmania, and that makes mitigating roadkill hotspots an important conservation tool to help maintain presence of these species in their last remaining strong-hold,” Dr Fox says. 

The authors also believe that road-managers, including councils, may benefit from the knowledge of the results of the trial.

“Future mitigation of roadkill on Tasmania’s roads relies on the collection of roadkill data around the State to identify hotspots that could then be targeted with the installation of these devices,” Dr Fox says.

Read the paper​.

Virtual Fence devices​

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