Virtual fence study

Dr Samantha Fox is the lead author of ‘Roadkill mitigation: trialing virtual fence devices on the west coast of Tasmania’. Photo courtesy of the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program.

Science. New research has found that small, easily transported and installed virtual fence devices have potential to substantially reduce wildlife roadkill in Tasmania.
The paper published in the Australian Mammalogy journal in November is called ‘Roadkill mitigation: trialing virtual fence devices on the west coast of Tasmania’.
Lead author Samantha Fox from the Save the Tasmanian Devil Program 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 Fox says the data show 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.” 
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.
“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.
“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.”
The paper is available from www.publish.csiro.au/am/AM18012.

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