The RSPCA says the area's popular with kangaroos who feed on fresh grass near the side of the road.

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Tire marks indicate the driver swerved to hit animals on either side of the road

The kangaroos come out of the bush to eat at dusk to feed on fresh shoots

CNN  — 

The search is on in Australia for a motorist who is believed to have deliberately run over 17 kangaroos.

Black tire marks along a road in Wacol, Brisbane, suggest the car swerved to hit the animals as they fed by the side of the road, according to the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (RSPCA).

“You can see the person’s deliberately gone right across the road to the other side and hit several, and then come back on the road and hit another four or five,” said Michael Beatty, spokesman for RSPCA Queensland.

The animals come out of the bush to feed in the evening to escape the hottest parts of the day, Beatty said. Locals know to slow down to avoid them. But not this time.

Tire marks show the driver swerved to hit kangaroos on both sides of the road.

“The kangaroos aren’t scared of the cars because the cars try to avoid them and leave them in peace,” Beatty said.

When animal welfare officers arrived, they found 16 kangaroos already dead. Another had to be euthanized.

“There could be others who were able to hop off into the bush and are quite badly injured,” Beatty said.

The incident is believed to have happened sometime between 6 p.m. local time Sunday night and the early hours of Monday morning.

Few clues exist, but officers are searching for a large vehicle with bull bar or grill guard. “You’d be looking for a car or a truck with a bull bar – otherwise they’d just be destroying their car,” Beatty said.