University Of Tasmania

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COVID-19 restrictions provide a brief respite from the wildlife roadkill toll

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 12:25 authored by Michael DriessenMichael Driessen

The COVID-19 pandemic provides a rare opportunity to reveal the impact of reduced human activity on wildlife. I compared traffic volume and wildlife roadkill data along 18km of highway before, during and after a 3-month period of COVID-19 restrictions with baseline data from the previous four years. Three marsupial herbivores comprised 89% of the 1820 roadkills recorded during the 4.5-year survey period: rufous-bellied pademelon Thylogale billardierii (31.5% of total), common brushtail possum Trichosurus vulpecula (29.8%) and red-necked wallaby Notamacropus rufogriseus (27.9%). During April 2020, when human activity was most restricted in the study area, traffic volume decreased by 36% (i.e. by an average 13,520 vehicle movements per day) and wildlife roadkill decreased by 48% (i.e. from 44 to 23 roadkills). However, when restrictions eased, traffic volume and wildlife roadkill returned to baseline levels indicating that the respite was brief in terms of animal welfare and of limited conservation value for these widespread and abundant species. Nevertheless, the results of this study suggest that even short periods of traffic reduction or road closures could be used as part of a management strategy for the conservation of endangered wildlife populations and re-wildling programs where roadkill is a risk factor.


Publication title

Biological Conservation



Article number









School of Geography, Planning and Spatial Sciences


Elsevier Sci Ltd

Place of publication

The Boulevard, Langford Lane, Kidlington, Oxford, England, Oxon, Ox5 1Gb

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 Elsevier Ltd.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Other environmental management not elsewhere classified