A RARE sighting of a kangaroo hopping through the streets of Morwell has ended in the native animal’s death.
The couple who attempted in vain to protect the kangaroo from harm has blamed the incident on a “lack of inter-professionalism” between public services who did not contact the appropriate authority to capture the animal, ultimately resulting in it being struck by a car on the Princes Freeway.
Express chief of staff Shaun Mallia spotted the roo heading east along Elgin Street about 5.30pm on Tuesday.
He made his way onto Wallace Street, where he again spotted the kangaroo on a vacant block which backed onto the Princes Freeway.
“I was concerned the kangaroo would attempt to jump the fence and onto the highway, putting itself and motorists in danger,” Mr Mallia said.
“And I was also worried if the kangaroo failed to jump the fence that it would get tangled in the barbed wire at the top.”
Unsure of the appropriate authority to contact, Mr Mallia phoned Latrobe City Council’s after-hours switchboard and was told council did not deal with native animals and it was best to call the RSPCA.
“Before I could make the call to the RSPCA another resident arrived and told me he had phoned the police as they were ‘the people to call about this’, so I held off,” he said.
“In the meantime my wife arrived and made a call to a local veterinarian to see what could be done and the vet said they would call us back with some information.
“She also attempted to get in touch with a friend she thought would have the number for a local wildlife shelter.”
Mr Mallia said police then arrived, but were unsure what they could do to relocate the kangaroo.
“Several minutes passed as the police officers debated what could be done,” he said.
“During this time I did not notice them making any phone calls to other agencies.
“They then slowly headed towards the kangaroo, but the roo panicked and jumped the fence, hopping out of sight and within moments of doing so we heard a loud bang from the highway.”
Police returned to their vehicle and drove off, Mr Mallia said.
Several minutes later he heard a gun shot and assumed the officers had euthanised the animal.
The organisation authorities could have phoned was Wildlife Victoria.
Kate Mallia said she was “shocked” by “lack of inter-professionalism” between the public services.
“We live in a rural area and none of the public services that we contacted had any standard operating procedures for dealing with an innocent native animal who was not threatening anyone,” she said.
“Council and the police need to create operating procedures to deal with what should have been a simple situation so that the same sad outcome does not occur again.”
In a strange coincidence, an eastern grey kangaroo yesterday made its way into a Melbourne Airport terminal, prompting a reminder from Wildlife Victoria to keep an eye out for native animals.
Spokeswoman Amy Amato said the organisation not only helped injured animals, but those displaced from their natural habitat and it was normal practice for emergency services and local councils to contact them on such occasions.
However, she said some officers or public servants might not be aware of the protocol, as it was not “official”, because Wildlife Victoria was a charity, not a government body.
She said there was no government organisation set up to deal with the wildlife issues her organisation focused on.
“The Department of Environment and Primary Industries would call us as well unless it was clear the animal needed to be euthanised,” Ms Amato said.
“We would encourage the police to be calling us as soon as possible next time.
“Our volunteers are trained to treat these animals as though they are wild and really stay away from them,” she said.
Morwell Police Station’s Senior Sergeant Dave Watson said initial enquiries suggested it was not a Morwell unit which attended the incident on Tuesday and he was unable to say what enquiries were made by police on the day.
Latrobe City Council declined to comment.
Wildlife Victoria is encouraging members of the public to phone it directly to increase response times.
If you see a sick, injured or displaced native animal, phone 1300 094 535 or visit www.wildlifevictoria.org.au and log the incident.