As if locals don’t know it already, anyone driving around East Gippsland, no matter the time of day, should beware of wildlife as they dangerously encroach unawares onto our roads and highways.
Orbost and Snowy Rivers Taxis’ Jan Roberts knows all too well the impact of encountering wildlife on our roads. In her case it was a deer that “came from nowhere” after she had dropped her most recent passenger off at the pub.
“It was just before the Broddy (Brodribb) Bridge and this deer was just there. It frightened the crap out of me,” Jan reflected.
“I had to go over the bridge to pull over but that’s as far as I got. The tow truck took the taxi away and drove me home. Someone got the deer off the road and I think someone went home to get something to put it out of its misery.
The incident occurred on the night of Saturday, August 3. As “slow as things happen out here”, Jan said it wasn’t until last Thursday, August 8, that the vehicle was towed away for assessment.
The taxi service has been out of action since, and Jan’s not sure when it we be back in action.
“Lakes Entrance taxis have done a bit of work up here with our DVA work, which has helped out a lot,” she said.
“And everyone’s here has been really great. You can’t blame anyone; it’s one of those things. It’s now a matter of waiting to see what happens with the insurance and so on.”
Lakes Taxi Service has shown its support for Jan’s Orbost service and as of Monday had offered the use of one of its vehicles until the situation is sorted. The service can continue to be called on the Orbost phone number. While she doesn’t know how the situation can be fixed, Jan said the wildlife situation on the roads was “getting shocking”.
“It’s not just at night either. I was driving a patient from Marlo Airport to Cann River a couple of months ago and we counted six deer on the Cabbage Tree Marlo Plains Road.
“Something needs to be done, I just don’t know what. There have been too many accidents and so many near misses,” she said.
“Culling maybe, but they’ll just keep coming back.
“It’s not just deer, it’s kangaroos, the whole lot. You don’t have to worry about other drivers on the roads out here; it’s the wildlife you’ve got to look out for.”
A Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) spokesperson said DELWP, Parks Victoria, Game Management Authority and other partner agencies will soon begin work on a local deer management trial in East Gippsland.
“A Victorian Deer Management Strategy is currently being developed to set out a coordinated and strategic approach to deer management across the state and it will outline how the economic, environmental and social impacts of deer will be managed whilst maintaining sustainable hunting opportunities,” the spokesperson said.
Deer can cause significant environmental damage through grazing, tree rubbing, trampling and forming wallows in drainage lines resulting in soil erosion and compaction. This can increase pressure on native wildlife, threatened species and communities.
Wandering wildlife, including deer, can pose a traffic hazard. As with other traffic hazards, drivers should be vigilant and drive to conditions. Drivers should be especially careful between dawn and dusk when native animals are most likely to be on the move.
The Victorian Deer Management Strategy is expected to be released later this year.