Roadkill Mitigation: Trialing virtual fence devices on the west coast of Tasmania
Protecting native wildlife in North-West Tasmania
Virtual Fencing technology has had proven application in the US and Europe, on wildlife of all species and sizes, since 2003. However, as a new product to Australia, its effectiveness on Australian wildlife and in Australian conditions has only recently been confirmed.
Working in partnership with the Tasmanian Government’s Save the Tasmanian Devil Program (STDP), a trial of Virtual Fencing technology in Australia’s island state of Tasmania was established in 2014.
The site of the trial was a 13-kilometre stretch of road between Arthur River and Marrawah on the state’s remote North-West coast, chosen for its well-documented instances of roadkill, situated within the habitat of the endangered Tasmanian Devil.
The dataset presented in this white paper ended in March 2017, providing three continuous years of data since installation of the fence. The results show although the total wildlife-vehicle collision events varied between species, a significant reduction in the rate of roadkill incidences of Australian native species was recorded.
The most commonly affected species identified as the Bennett’s wallaby & Tasmanian pademelon, see a reduction of roadkill events by 50% demonstrating a huge potential of this roadkill mitigation technology.
Another promising outcome of the data indicates a reduction in the number of vulnerable species hit by vehicles, such as the endangered Tasmanian Devil and the spotted-tailed quoll. Suggesting the Virtual Fencing devices may help reduce the impact of roadkill on these vulnerable populations of species that are already challenged by other threats in the environment.
Lead Author Dr Fox stresses the importance of identifying roadkill hotspots in conjunction with the roll out of the technology; concluding “the obvious reduction in roadkill in the trial is encouraging and should support roll out of these devices.” Recommending other states to consider the use of this technology to mitigate wildlife-vehicle collision.
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