Lack of rain and bushfire has forced many native creatures to seek food along roadsides, with a resultant increase in the number of animals being struck and killed or injured. While many are killed outright, some are left by careless drivers to suffer on the edge of the road or try to get through fences to refuge.
A injured kangaroo is a very dangerous animal. Confused and in pain, they will attack a person approaching them, especially if they sense they are cornered, and can inflict serious injuries. I know. I was attacked by one on the way to Ballarat.
I saw it on the roadside not far from my home, obviously injured. Its right leg was twisted out awkwardly and the toes were dragging. Unable to jump - its means of flight - it was trying to force its way through a ringlock fence.
I stopped my car and approached it with a coat I had taken from the boot, hoping to assist it over the fence, when I realised it was a male and larger that I had thought. As I did, it turned and came at me, grunting with distress.
Backing off, holding the coat in front of me, the injured animal tried to kick out. Eventually it settled itself back against the fence, watching me. There was little I could do for the kangaroo, beyond calling the local police station and asking them to come out and see if it needed euthanasing.
I know a person who had a similar experience while walking near her home. An injured kangaroo leapt from the bushes and tackled her - she's in her 70s - to the ground, kicking and scratching her. It too had clearly been injured by a vehicle, and was distressed. She was saved by her dogs driving the animal off; it was later shot by a neighbour who said it was clearly in terrible pain.
Inspector Glenn Taylor of Victoria Police says there is a legal requirement in the Road Safety Act 1986 for any driver involved in an accident where 'any person is injured or any property (including any animal) is damaged or destroyed' to immediately stop their vehicle and 'render such assistance as he or she can.'
That assistance would usually be best achieved through contacting a wildlife rescue service or local police, he says.
Wildlife Victoria's Lauren Everett says widespread destruction of habitat means surviving wildlife are on the move seeking food.
"Often the first green grass appears along roadsides following rain which can increase the number of animals on the roads," she said.
"If you do hit an animal, pull over - if it is safe to do so - and call a wildlife rescue organisation for advice on what to do.
"If the accident has caused a traffic hazard call 000."
Of course many native animals struck by vehicles don't stay in the same place, but attempt to get as far away from the scene of their injury as possible, and there is a limit to just what can be done in many cases.
They may end up back on the road and cause a more serious accident.
People need to stop and ensure an animal is dead, or call for assistance.
Leaving an animal to suffer is cruel, and it can be dangerous to others.
Animal rescue and assistance services: