Cars hitting animals is both unfortunate and common (especially in the country). For help on how to avoid a collision with an animal, check out our last post.
Even if you're confident you can avoid a collision if the situation came up, it's still important to know what to do and who to call should you injure or kill an animal while driving.
Having some basic knowledge about how to act will ensure the safety of both the animal and you. There are a few simple steps you can follow to ensure you act in a responsible and safe way after colliding with an animal:
- Pull over where safe and activate your hazard lights
- Check that all passengers are fine
- Make sure everyone is calm before handling the situation. Hysterics are not useful or effective.
- Injured animals will be stressed, unpredictable, and potentially dangerous. Don't exit the vehicle and walk back to the animal, instead, slowly drive back trying not to startle the animal.
- Before you exit the vehicle, assess the situation for danger. Your presence could threaten an animal enough to provoke an attack. A young animal might have some very upset parents nearby who will do anything to protect their child. Some animals require qualified 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). Contact the relevant authorities and follow their instructions.
- If you think it's safe, leave your vehicle, approach with caution making sure that other traffic does not endanger you or the animal.
If the animal is dead
Dead animals left on the road create a traffic hazard that might result in further danger to other road users. If possible (and safe), remove the animal from the road. It's important to check adult animal pouches for baby animals that could have survived the collision. If you find a live animal, treat is a injured (information below).
If the dead animal is a pet, try to contact the owner or the RSPCA.
If the animal is injured
Maintain a safe distance from injured animals as they are likely frightened and easily provoked into attacking a further threat.
For native animals, you can call Wildcare Helpline on (08) 9474 9055 for advice on how to assist the specific injured animal.
Depending on the animal they will either offer advice on sick, injured, orphaned or displaced native wildlife or refer you to a wider network of experts for assistance.
You may be required to take the animal to the nearest vet (most do not charge to treat injured wildlife).
You may have to wait for assistance to arrive. If this occurs, you should maintain a safe distance so they are not injured further or frightened more than necessary.
If you must transport the animal, follow these steps to ensure their and your safety (you should keep the necessary items in your car just in case):
- Cover the animal with a towel
- Gently and firmly pick it up
- Carry them in 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 or on your lap
- Do not attempt to give the animal food/water
Non-native wildlife are more complicated as you cannot use the Wildcare Helpline. You can transport the animal (as above) to the nearest vet for treatment. If the non-native animal is classified as a pest, it will be put to sleep. Other non-natives will passed onto wildlife rehabilitation centres to eventually be returned to the wild.
If a pet is injured, immediately take it to the nearest vet. From there, try to contact the owner or the RSPCA.
Damage to your vehicle
Hitting any sized animal at speed will probably cause your vehicle damage. If safe, take pictures at the scene to collect evidence of the incident for insurance purposes.