Report from Chris Smith
We are used to avoiding rabbits, hedgehogs and the occasional sheep on our roads but swerving to avoid a kangaoo-like creature bouncing in front of you is surely only for drivers Down Under.
Not if you are in Loch Lomond.
A handful of wallabies, introduced on to a tiny island on the loch several years ago, have been breeding furiously and some have decided to make a hop for the mainland.
There have been a number of sighting of the meandering marsupials around the village of Luss, on the west side of the loch.
A boatman for Luss Estates said: "Personally, I have seen at least two wallabies on the mainland in the last few weeks, and some of my friends say they have also come across the creatures in the woods.
"They are obviously very shy animals and they take off pretty quickly as soon as they sense that any human is around. I have no idea how many wallabies have made it off the island and are now living on the mainland. But it must be quite a few due to the number of sightings there have been.
A truck driver reported that he hqd to swerve to avoid hitting what he thought was a kangaroo.
Road safetly officials and police are now having to consider putting up signs warning motorists to watch out for the hopping beasts.
A small number of wallabies, native to Australia, were brought to one of Loch Lomond's 23 islands, believed to be Inchconnachan, in the 1970s by a private landowner.
He was considering stablishing a wildlife park, but when the idea was abandoned, so were the wallabies.
Since then, the population has grown and there are now thought to be more than 40 wallabies inhabiting the island.
They survive on shrubs and plants, and have become accustomed to the Scottish climate.
Nancy Fraser, of Scottish Natural Heritage, said: "A few wallabies were brought to the island by a landowner who wanted to create a mini wildlife park several years ago.
"Since then, the population has exploded. A few have swum to the mainland and there have been several repots of sightings in the area. A truck driver recently reported that he almost hit what he thought was a kangaroo.
BR> "Sadly, they don't tend to survive very long off the island as there are no other wallabies for them to mate with."
The animals, who are residing in Scotland's first national park, are belived to be the only wallabies living wild in this country. There is another lrge colony in te Lake District.
A spokeswoman for Loch Lomond and Trossachs National park said: "We believe ther are around 40 wallabies living on one of the islands on the loch, although it is hard to guage the exact number.
"They were introduced by a landowner in the 1870s and have lived there ever since. The island has since changed hands and has its own farm.
The national park was officially opened by the Princess Royal last month. It is the second largest national park in Britain, covering 720 square miles, stretching from Crainlarich, in the north, to Balloch in the south.
The park holds 21 Munros (peaks over 3000 ftĦ, 33 Corbetts (over 2500 ft), two forest parks and 57 sites designated for their special conservation value
© The Herald, 22 nd August 2002
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