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Why do we drive away kangaroos?

Kangaroo on the street

Too close to home. Kangaroos hopping through city streets are now as common as they are in the bush. Photo: supplied.

It’s that quintessentially Australian story that never goes away. Like how mice get through non-existent holes in your bedroom wall, why the other half of most country pubs have Chinese restaurants, and why, even if you live less than an hour from Canberra, you should stand in the back paddock, on your toes , waving your hand, to get cell reception.

Kangaroos. It used to be that if you drove slower than normal around the known dangerous times, sunrise and sunset, you were fine. Or if you’ve spent a lot of money on one of those things, you stick it on the front of your car and it makes a noise that only the animals hear and that’s supposed to scare them off the road.

Now they are everywhere. Again, there’s no reason for that when you look at all the greenery that follows the rain – other than the default, that our lives, homes, parks and ourselves have taken over their world.

If you lived outside the city, it was once clear which parts of the road were more likely to jump on you, where you had to slow down, and where you could speed up again in reasonable safety.

Has anyone else noticed that there are so many more now? If people start talking about culls again, or if an automaker brags about some early warning device they’ll be testing in the city soon, they’re certainly missing the point.

We are where they used to be. Free, just like very large birds.

So the debate flares up again with that word that divides us. Roomy.

Shooting any animal unless it is in immeasurable pain is horrible – but so is hitting it flat out and seeing the look on their face as they bounce off your car.

A memory that will never go away was when I was driving to work early one morning and as I turned the corner I saw a guy standing in the middle of the road. He was standing next to a young fellow monkey who had his head up, but all other parts of it had fallen in a heap.

The look on the guy’s face said it all. He waited for me to come by so he could put the animal out of its misery. I heard the shot as I turned the next corner.

One year I hit twice in almost as many months. Both times I found myself on a road that I knew so well that I could have built it. Both times I had one of those little things making noises on the front of the car, both times I even thought about not swerving or braking as they tell you, but both times I hit the animal. The first time I killed it. The second time I hit him, he jumped lame into the bushes. We looked for it for about an hour but couldn’t find it. The people who came out later, the wildlife rescuers couldn’t either.

Good citizens, whether farmers, teachers (or both), respect animals and want only the best for them. If they starve and move closer to human-populated areas, we all suffer.

Shoot them? Make them infertile? Move them further? Who knows?

The only thing that is clear in this mind is the look on the animal’s face and the feeling in the human’s heart when it all gets too close.

Original article published by Sally Hopman on Riotact.