What animals are riders’ worst enemies?

Kangaroo wildlife roadkill - animals

In Australia, the kangaroo, wallaby and pademelon (yes, that’s right!) are the biggest enemy of riders accounting for 70% of all crashes with animals.

However, but you’d be surprised what other animals are on the list, according to Suncorp insurance claims data.

Dogs are next with 7.7% of all motorcycle-versus-animal strikes, but it would have been worse years ago before fencing laws.

Anyone who was riding before these laws will remember fending off snarling dogs with their boot.

Suncorp Insurance CEO Anthony Day is a motorcycle rider who has had his fair share of close encounters with the animal kind.

“Often when riding – especially in the bush – I’ve had near misses with various animals,” says Anthony who rides a 2014 Indian Chief Vintage.

What animals are riders' worst enemy?
Anthony Day with his Chief

“When you’re on a bike, the experience of hitting a bird or mammal is not simply an uncomfortable and frightening experience, but can be life threatening. 

“As CEO of one of the largest insurers in Australia, I know of too many motorcyclists who have had an animal collision. 

“Fortunately, the overall numbers of animal collisions reported is relatively low.”

Statistics of types of animals

Suncorp animal claims from July 1, 2012, to November 30, 2016.

(633 claims in total, motorcycles 614, off-road bike 17, moped or scooter 2.)

Animals

No of Claims

%age

Kangaroo

380

60.03%

Wallaby

62

9.79%

Dog

49

7.74%

Emu

22

3.48%

Cow

21

3.32%

Bird (non-specific)

11

1.74%

Wombat

10

1.58%

Sheep

10

1.58%

Animal (non-specific)

10

1.58%

Cat

8

1.26%

Fox

7

1.11%

Bush Turkey

6

0.95%

Deer

5

0.79%

Cockatoo

4

0.63%

Horse

3

0.47%

Hare

3

0.47%

Goat

3

0.47%

Eagle

3

0.47%

Owl

3

0.47%

Ducks

2

0.32%

Wild Boar

2

0.32%

Goanna

2

0.32%

Snake

1

0.16%

Chicken

1

0.16%

Bandicoot

1

0.16%

Pademelon

1

0.16%

Possum

1

0.16%

Echidna

1

0.16%

Pig

1

0.16%

Total

633

100.00%

Animal strikes by state/territory

Moped or Scooter

Motorcycle

Off-Road Bike

Total

%age

Australian Capital Territory

 

14

 

14

2.21%

New South Wales

 

241

5

246

38.86%

Northern Territory

 

8

 

8

1.26%

Queensland

1

163

3

167

26.38%

South Australia

 

45

1

46

7.27%

Tasmania

 

14

1

15

2.37%

Victoria

 

86

6

92

14.53%

Western Australia

1

43

1

45

7.11%

Grand Total

2

614

17

633

 

“Collisions can happen at any time, but riding at night brings additional risks,” Anthony warns.

“I try to avoid riding at night but when I do, I am grateful the Indian has powerful driving lights. If your bike doesn’t have good lights, it’s a wise investment.

“On every ride, I wear protective gear and like to practise my braking and swerving techniques. Practice is the only way to ensure you have these skills when you need them.

“I’m conscious of the fact that if I do collide with an animal, it could be someone’s pet or carrying young. If you find yourself in that situation, it’s important to check its injuries and do what you can to help.”

MBW TIPS ON AVOIDING ANIMAL STRIKES

roadkillTIME

Obviously the most important is to avoid riding between dusk and early morning. This is when animals tend to roam around for food and when their brown hides are more difficult to see. But we’ve also known riders to hit animals in the middle of the day, so there is no time when you are totally safe. You always need to be on alert.

SCAN

You should always be scanning the sides of the road for animals – dead or alive. Early detection can help prevent a collision by giving you time to slow down and work out an exit strategy. Don’t just use your eyes … use your nose, too. If you smell roadkill, it means there are more animals about.

ROAD POSITION

If there is dense bush on one side of the road, ride close to the edge of the lane as far away from the bush as possible. In remote country regions, you can even ride on the opposite side of the road for a short while to give you as much distance as possible from animals lurking in roadside bushes and trees. The common country tip is to ride in the centre of the road to give yourself the maximum buffer zone.

SLOW DOWN

Slow down when the danger increases, such as if dense bush is close to the road, or when entering a national park or when riding through unfenced farming land. If you do encounter an animal on the road, the only way to avoid hitting it is to slow down. Hitting or glancing even a small animal at speed can send you flying. Wash off as much speed as you can and hold your course. Wait until the last second to decide on avoidance action.

BEHAVIOUR

roadkill
Sheep can make a sudden “ewe-turn”

Some animals behave more predictably than others. Usually packs of animals will head in the same direction, so you simply aim for the rear of the pack. However, we’ve aimed for the rear of a herd of sheep only to have them do a complete u-turn (ewe-turn?) and surround the bike. Luckily I was able to slow down and just bounce off a couple.

WHISTLES

We’ve tried one of those devices that you place on the front of your bike that creates a high-pitched whistle which apparently only animals can hear. The noise is supposed to disperse the animals. However, we find it doesn’t work on kangaroos for which it is mainly intended, but it does work on birds.

 

BIRDS

Don’t underrate the effect of large birds to cause havoc for riders. I’ve had my hand knocked off the handlebars when I hit a crow at highway speeds. I’d hate to hit one of those big eagles! If you see birds on the road, they are probably picking at roadkill and are too preoccupied to notice your approaching bike. Don’t just hope that they will disperse. Give them a warning honk in plenty of time so they will scatter.

 

NOISES

A Goldwing rider claims the loud stereo on his bike works to disperse roos and other wildlife. In fact, any loud noise will work. Sudden noises are better than the constant whine or rumble of your approaching bike. Gun the engine every now and then, or blow the horn especially as you crest a hill or round a blind corner. It alerts the animals and hopefully they will head for the bushes.

LIVESTOCK

roadkill
Take care around livestock

Most livestock allowed to roam beside the roads are accustomed to the noise of traffic and won’t be alarmed. However, young animals and horses can be quite skittish, so it is best to slow down and even pull in the clutch to quieten your exhaust noise as you roll by.

ROOS

We’ve encountered just about every type of wildlife and livestock possible in Australia and many in the US, but the most unpredictable would have to be the kangaroo. It stops, looks at you, then hops away, then turns around and hops straight back in your path. Sometimes they just dart out of the bushes and run straight into you. A friend had his front wheel taken out from under him by a small rock wallaby. He didn’t even see it; next thing he was sliding along the ground. Roos are in plague proportions and are a menace on our roads. Sorry to all animal lovers, but we support culling their population. Meanwhile, the best course of action if you see a kangaroo at the side of the road and you are travelling too fast to be able to stop is not to blow the horn. That will only startle it into an erratic response. Most times a roo on the side of the road will be too busy grazing on the “green pick” to be startled by the gradually increasing rumble of your approaching bike.

VERDICT

There is no simple guaranteed answer to prevent you from becoming roadkill and protecting our wildlife, but if you use some of these tips, it you should increase your chances of a safe ride.

8 Comments

  1. Hit a Roo back in the late 70’s, it bent the forks back almost to the engine. Roos certainly have a death wish as they seem to be compelled to hopping in front of you instead of going bush.

  2. So is Ol Mate from AAMI going to lead the way in the insurance industry and make a clause that if you hit a roo or another animal it won’t impact your NCB? I’d prefer no need for an excess too but I’m already dreaming!

    Luckily for me the last roo I hit on a bike (at 80 km/hr) near Injune in Qld, it turned at the last minute and my Harley and I went rodeo over the top. Result: one dead roo, the Harley gaining a ‘hair strip’ underneath, and me wondering how the hell it worked out all ok for me. RIP Skippy.

    Mark re: your stats, can you put up the figure for around the ACT (NSW)? I’d bet when combined with the ACT it would be crazy high. This part of the world is skippy, and to a lesser extent wombat, central.

  3. Bloody wombats!
    One of those clobbered me one night on a dirt road in the Southern Highlands of NSW. I came down on my right hand side pretty hard and the mighty KLR had slid upside down a while (which I later deduced from the shredded top of the Gearsack, the busted instruments, mirrors and flattened throttle cables.). After wondering where I was and what just happened, I ended up stuck under the KLR for 15-20 minutes because the right hand handlebar had lodged itself down the inside of my right hand Alpinestars enduro boot while the right foot was under the narrow section of the bike. Trying to push the bike off with my left boot against the seat only pushed the handlebar further down my right boot.
    My touring kit included a torch so I was able to gingerly extract that from the Gearsack which, while sustaining damage, still held the contents in and I was able to get a better view of the novel situation.
    Trying to lift a loaded top-heavy traillie while injured and sitting on the ground with one leg stuck under said traillie presented an unusual physics challenge.
    After turning off the ignition and the fuel tap I rested a while and contemplated my predicament. Then the clouds started to drizzle. As I was thinking that things could not get any worse, I got the notion that an alcohol-primed bush-person might come barreling down the road in a 4WD back from town and might not notice the clump of bike and rider in the middle of the road. This spurred me into action. Unloading the luggage made the KLR a bit lighter and gave me something to prop the bike up with between heaves.
    Eventually I was able to extract myself. Limping around in circles and swearing didn’t improve the situation but it made me feel a bit better.
    I didn’t know I had hit a wombat until I limped some way back down the road by torchlight searching for evidence. It wasn’t such a big wombat, maytbe 12-18 inches long. It had blood coming out of its mouth and wasn’t moving. I stood on my good left leg and grabbed my banged up right leg with my hands and swung my right boot into the wombat a few times while swearing. It wasn’t exactly a torrent of retribution but it was the best I could muster in the circumstances.
    Getting to Mittagong and then to Sydney is a whole ‘nother story, but I got there.

  4. On a completely different note, there is no such thing as a kangaroo!
    They are all wallabies. The story goes that who ever was getting the names of animals pointed to the general direction of some wallabies and asked what are they? The aboriginal who was working with him unable to tell what he was pointing to asked “what’s what?”

  5. Only animal I’ve ever hit is a cow. I slowed down as much as I could and then luckily just bounced off, it looked at me and then ambled away. I was on an olh honda, broke the spark plug in 2, it had a metal sleeve around it so I shoved it back together and managed to limp back on a barely working bike. Very embarrassing. I almost got taken out by a duck once, the idea of my eulogy saying death by duck did not appeal.

  6. A few months ago I was taken out by a wallaby that collected me from the side. I didn’t see it, let alone have any chance of taking any evasive action. One second I was riding along quite happily, next second I was on the road. This happened mid morning on a main highway.
    A local Police Officer later told me that this is becoming more common, as the roos are in such numbers they tend to be around much more during the day, not just during dusk and dawn.

  7. There you have it. A bunch of stats, so now you are aware of just some of the dangers of charging around on roads & trails whilst in charge of machines. Now we can’t take a roo to court, especially a dead one & there is no point trying to educate it after the fact, or at all really, so either be aware they live on our planet too or don’t go outside the safety of your house, unless in a fully fortified vehicle that is fully insured, life, funeral & death insurance aswell as your shotgun so as you can do a spot of culling while waiting for your insurance company to organise a tow truck for your mangled bit of workmanship. Get some photos of the deranged killing beast that was in a mad rage & suicide jumped out in front of you by the side of the road..but be sure to check it’s pouch for off spring so as it can be dealt with by alarmed authorities. Post the photo to the Shooters mag who will sport you on the front cover of their monthly sport magazine alongside the man holding up a head of a previous nights bush pig kill. The possibilities are endless. Be extra aware of the fear induced mongering out there lurking around every corner armed with stats to prove it. The animal is always wrong people. Get a bloody bull bar & mow those crazy flockers down! We’ll deal with their families. (mild attempt at tongue in cheek black humour) Here’s to staying above the earths crust..one & all.

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