Living with wildlife

Living with and enjoying our unique natural environment and the wildlife it supports comes with some challenges. Here are some tips for what to do when you encounter wildlife in the Macedon Ranges.

In the outdoors 

You may enjoy regular visits from our unique local wildlife. But the native animals you see in the bush aren’t pets. Wild animals, no matter how timid or small, are capable of inflicting injury. So be careful, no matter how harmless they may appear:

  • Move slowly, stay calm and keep your distance. They will be more frightened of you than you are of them.
  • Never try to pat or handle wild animals. It is illegal and approaching them too closely can stress animals or cause them to abandon their young.
  • Do not corner animals so they feel trapped, particularly kangaroos. Remove any pets from the area as they will add to the animal’s distress.
  • It is a prosecutable offence under the Wildlife Act 1975 to intentionally harm, shoot, trap or kill wildlife. Fines and other penalties can be applied. Contact your local Department of Environment and Primary Industries Office if wildlife becomes a problem on your property.
  • If an animal becomes trapped or seems distressed, clear a path to allow it to escape. If this is not possible, contact Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535.

While driving

  • Look out for wildlife signs (usually yellow with a black animal symbol). They indicate that you are driving through a wildlife corridor or ‘hotspot’ and extra care should be taken.
  • Use your peripheral vision and be alert. Animals can appear and move suddenly.
  • Slow down from dusk until dawn when driving on country roads to reduce the risk of hitting wildlife and damaging your vehicle.
  • Slow down or brake (never swerve) if you see wildlife on or near the road.
  • If an animal is close or blocking your path, dip your headlights to low beam (high beam dazzles them) and toot a few times if there is no other traffic. This will encourage them to move on, but be aware that they may move back into your path at any moment.
  • Never throw rubbish from car windows. It can attract wildlife to roadsides and increase the risk of road-kill.

Injured or dead animals

If you find dead wildlife on a Council road, please report it to us by calling (03) 5422 0333. If you find a dead animal on a major arterial road (highway, freeway or main road), contact VicRoads on 13 11 71.

Council does not deal with injured wildlife. If you find an injured animal:

  • Call Wildlife Victoria on 1300 094 535 immediately, giving a detailed description to help locate the animal quickly.
  • Do not try to care for the injured animal yourself or take it home. It must be taken to a vet or wildlife shelter.
  • Stay in your car and keep the animal in sight until a wildlife rescuer arrives. 
  • If you are unable to stay, mark the location with a plastic bag, piece of cloth or some other visible material.
  • Do not attempt to pat the animal as this will further add to its distress. Injured animals can cause further injury to themselves and should only be approached by a trained person.

Fencing

The use of barbed wire in traditional stock fencing poses a serious risk to  native animals, who can become entangled and injured, often leading to death. Here are some tips for making your fencing wildlife-friendly:

  • Remove the barbed wire strands.
  • Keep the first strand of wire/rail at least 50cm above the ground to allow wildlife to pass.
  • Install more visible material on the top strand such as white cord or reflective tape. This is especially important if you cannot remove barbed wire.
  • Reconsider the need for traditional stock farm fencing. Internal fencing can often be removed entirely, while perimeter fencing can use plain wire or timber.

Don't feed wildlife

Feeding local wildlife can interfere with natural feeding behaviours, attract unwanted pests and cause damage to our local environment. There are other ways you can attract native wildlife to your garden (see: Sustainable Gardening and Native Plants).

In many species of native wildlife, youngsters rely on parental behaviour to teach them how to find food. You can upset this important part of their development by feeding them, not to mention the fact that the food may not be nutritionally appropriate and could result in disease or illness. 

Leaving out food like seeds or bread for wildlife can also attract vermin such as rats and mice.

Cockatoos

The Sulphur-crested Cockatoo (easily identified with their white body and yellow crest) is particularly prone to becoming a nuisance as a result of being fed by humans. It is natural for these birds to spend a large part of the day browsing for seeds, grass, plants, nuts and insects. Feeding them therefore increases their leisure time and can lead to them damaging houses (e.g. by chewing window frames) in order to keep their beaks in top condition. 

 

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