By Mitchell Clarke
A group of wildlife rescuers are urging motorists to slow down and take caution in areas where kangaroos frequent.
The team at Wildlife Incident Safe Haven (WISH) say they are responding to more and more incidents of kangaroos being left for dead after being hit by vehicles.
Berwick woman Sarah Cooke has transformed her home into a rescue centre for orphaned joeys that her and her team have rescued.
Working alongside her mother Sheryle and partner James, the group respond to call outs 24 hours a day with each member being highly trained and experienced when it comes to making the heartbreaking decision to humanely euthanise injured or dying wildlife.
The group claim the growing areas and housing estates in Pakenham, Officer and surrounds are rapidly pushing the kangaroos out of their natural land, forcing them to cross roads and come into contact with people in search of food.
“People think the kangaroos are the problem, but as people, we are the problem,” Sarah said.
“These animals are only trying to cross the road in search of food.”
Pakenham Upper woman Judith Ward met Sarah through Facebook and has become so passionate about saving lives, she has since become a rescuer herself.
“Earlier this week on my way to school drop off I found a joey that had survived the initial crash only to freeze to death after being thrown from its mother’s pouch on impact,” Judith said.
“If the driver had only stopped and checked, the joey would’ve survived in the hands of a wildlife carer.”
Just days later, Judith found another joey that had froze to death in its mother’s pouch in the same location on the opposite side of the road.
“People just don’t seem to care for these animals and see them as pests,” Judith said.
“They are our national icon and deserve to be here and not just left to suffer on the roadsides.”
Motorists who may come into contact with a kangaroo should always contact a rescue group – regardless if it hops away.
“Often kangaroos are hit and hop away on adrenaline, but they usually sustain some kind of injury, like broken legs or hips,” Sarah said.
“Unfortunately in most cases the animal needs to be euthanised.
“There are people like us that are willing to help at all times of the day so please call us and we will come and assist. Don’t just leave them.”
The non-profit organisation works across the clock to rescue injured animals. Where possible, the orphaned joeys are brought to Sarah’s shelter until they are old enough to be moved to another sanctuary.
While kangaroo collisions are inevitable, the group hope that with more education, people will begin to value the life of all animals – regardless of whether they are considered pests.
“I will still come out and ensure the animal isn’t dying a slow and painful death, regardless if it is a pest animal or not,” Sarah said.
Road users are urged to drive to the conditions and if they come across wildlife rescuers with their hazard lights and high-vis vests on, to slow down.
“Just slow down, so many times we’re risking our lives to save another life. The last thing we need is the danger of being hit ourselves.”
Donations to the WISH organisation can be made through their Facebook page.