Today I went for a late afternoon ride on some access trails around the nearby Mt Taylor.
Even though it was a fairly sunny day there was already a crisp chill in the air that bit in anytime I stopped riding to look at some thing or another.

A large mob of kangaroos was making the most of the last sunlight, grazing in groups of five or so. Loping along unhurriedly or occasionally bouncing a few times as they munch on the thin pickings of the parched dry brown slopes.

I am pretty sure they were Eastern Grey’s (Macropus giganteus).
I estimated there were maybe 80 to 100 roos that I could see, and I noted that some of them were already with Joeys. Many of the flyers looked undernourished and a little worse for wear.

A male kangaroo is called a boomer
A female kangaroo is called a flyer
A baby kangaroo is called a joey

There are probably hundreds of thousands of kangaroos living in the Canberra area, and with a very dry winter this year they are increasingly moving onto roads and into suburbs as they search for food.

Many of our local sports grounds and park areas now have a dense covering of black pebbly kangaroo scat littering their surfaces, the well watered grasses an irresistible beacon of nocturnal nourishment.

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Mum and Joey keeping an eye on me as I ride past.

As of last month (July 2018) there has already been over 2,000 incidents of vehicles hitting kangaroos with rangers expecting that number to easily top 4,000 by the end of the year.

It was only a few weeks back that Kelly hit a large roo on her way from work late at night. She was only travelling around 60kph and was alert to possible problems as there are often groups of kangaroos active close to the roads in this area after dusk. Many of her colleagues had been reporting near misses.

Despite being on guard, a disoriented or startled roo bounded from the darkness fleeing directly into her path and a collision was unavoidable. Kelly was fine (but pretty shaken up), the car sustained relatively minor damage, but unfortunately the Kangaroo was mortally injured.

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I parked up the bike and spent some time quietly watching a small group. After a few uneasy minutes of watching me closely, they settled back to feeding. Ears occasionally flicking back around to ping my intentions.

Then it was like pop, pop, pop, as a mini-mob of Joey heads re-emerging from their mums fur lined pouches to check out what was going on.

Posted by Ian Miller

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