Collisions with animals are an unfortunate and common occurrence on our roads, particularly in country areas. To help you avoid hitting an animal, read our post on avoiding collisions with animals.
Although you may be well-prepared to avoid this situation, it is unavoidable in certain situations and you should know how to react and who to contact when an animal is killed or injured.
Handling this situation safely and responsibly is the best thing for both you and the animal. This can be achieved by following a few simple steps that guarantee the safety of all concerned:
- Pull over in a safe location and turn on your hazard lights
- Check that all vehicle occupants are ok
- Calm yourself and others before you deal with the animal. Hitting an animal is unfortunate, but it won't get you into any trouble. However, leaving the scene without taking the necessary steps to ensure an animal's welfare can get you in trouble.
- In injured animal will be stressed, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. Instead of immediately getting out and walking back, you should slowly drive back to the animal trying not to startle it.
- Assess the situation before leaving your vehicle. Your presence could intimate an animal and provoke an attack. A young animal could be found by some very unhappy parents who will do anything to protect their child. Some animals require special handling and should not be approached (larger animals and their young such as wallabies, kangaroos, koalas or wombats, and also fruit bats/flying-foxes, snakes and birds of prey). Rather, you should contact the relevant authorities and wait for assistance.
- If you think it's safe to do so, exit your vehicle, approach slowly and cautiously making sure that passing traffic doesn't endanger you or the animal.
If the animal is dead
A dead animal on the road may create a dangerous hazard for other road users. As such, you should remove the animal from the road if it is safe for you to do so. If the animal is an adult with a pouch, check for baby animals that may have survived. If alive, these animals should be treated as injured (see details below).
If the dead animal is a domestic animal (pet) - get in contact with the owner, police, your local council or the RSPCA.
If the animal is injured
Animals that are injured are likely terrified and easily provoked into attacking anyone they see as a further threat. As such, you should maintain a safe distance.
For native animals, you can call Wildlife Victoria's Emergency Response Service on 13 000 94535 for advice on how to assist the specific injured animal.
Depending on the animal they will either send a trained volunteer to help you handle the situation or recommend you transport the animal to the nearest vet (most do not charge to treat injured wildlife).
If they send a volunteer, it's best if you wait for them to arrive, maintaining a safe distance to the animal to ensure they are not injured further or frightened more than necessary.
If you are required to transport the animal to a vet, follow these steps to ensure their and your safety:
- Use a towel to cover the animal
- Pick it up gently and firmly
- Use a a well-ventilated box during transport
- Keep the animal in a dark and quiet environment where it will be warm
- Do not transport the animal in the boot of your vehicle
- Do not attempt to give the animal food/water
The vet will then take the necessary steps to ensure the animal gets the required treatment, gets cared for by the required rehabilitation centre that will eventually release it in the area it was originally found.
If a non-native wild animal is injured, you cannot use Wildlife Victoria's services. You can transport the animal (as above) to the nearest vet to receive treatment. Recovered animals will passed onto wildlife rehabilitation centres to eventually be returned to the wild. However, if the non-native is deemed a pest, it will be put to sleep by a vet.
If a pet is injured, immediately take it to the nearest vet. From there, get in contact with the owner, police, your local council or the RSPCA.
Remember that it can be considered an offence to leave the scene after hitting an animal without checking there are no injured survivors. Just to be safe, you should call Wildlife Victoria and seek their assistance.
Damage to your vehicle
Hitting a reasonably large animal at any speed will most likely cause damage to your vehicle. If safe to do so, you should take pictures at the scene to collect evidence of the incident and resulting damage for insurance purposes.