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Tasmanian Devil Project Reminds Drivers to Slow Down and Help Reduce Roadkill Numbers

Young Tasmanian devils are on the move, leaving mum’s den to find their own place to call home, but this also puts their lives at risk.

Being killed by vehicles is the second biggest threat to the iconic marsupial after devil facial tumour disease (DFTD).

The youngsters start to move around from late spring, but the summer months are often the most dangerous because more humans are also out and about.

Devils have been known to travel hundreds of kilometres when looking for a place to settle, and young devils often do not know to be cautious of roads and cars; they often use roads to walk along.

Bridget Jupe from Kingborough Council said the D’Entrecasteaux Channel and Huon areas were hotspots for devil roadkill.

“It’s a timely reminder for people to take care with those dark shapes on the road at night,” she told Chris Wisbey on ABC Radio Hobart.

“We’ve got quite a lot of devils in the Channel area [and] it’s especially important for people to ring in and report those devil roadkill sightings.”

Map of Tasmania with coloured lines and dots showing where Tasmanian devils have been killed on roads

In 2016 more than 90 devils were reported as roadkill in the Channel area, making it one of the worst spots in the state.

To remind drivers to slow down these summer holidays and reduce roadkill numbers, an electronic sign has been installed on Woodbridge Hill Road, another hotspot.

A narrow country road with a road sign in bright yellow saying 'slow dusk to dawn'

“They’re young, inexperienced devils and they’re roaming, so we tend to see more devils on the roads and around the roads at this time of year,” Ms Jupe said.

“And it coincides with a time when we’re all holidaying, especially in the Channel area … so we’re also on the roads a lot more.

“Saving the Tasmanian devil is a collaborative effort.”

The Save the Tasmanian Devil Program has a particular interest in devils in the Channel area as a second type of DFTD has been detected in animals there.

This means all devils killed on the roads should be reported to the program’s hotline (0497 338 457) so researchers can collect and examine the animals.

Ms Jupe said Kingborough residents had long been concerned with roadkill, particularly along the Channel Highway.

“We do get members of the public at our council meetings often raising this as an issue,” she said.

“We’re looking at the options along the Channel Highway with State Growth and others as well.”

In other parts of Tasmania, sound alarms and virtual fences have been installed at roadkill hotspots to reduce wildlife deaths.

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