On 14 April 2015, the ACT Government announced its plan to proceed with the killing of up to 2,466 eastern grey kangaroos in the Canberra Nature Park between 30 April and 1 August 2015.
The licence it has obtained to kill the kangaroos in these reserves is valid for two years with the total number of targeted kangaroos amounting to 5000 individuals over the two-year period.
Refugees in their own land, habitats for kangaroos and other animals have drastically shrunk and become fragmented following white occupation, and this trend continues growing due to human activity (population growth, infrastructure, agriculture—particularly animal husbandry.) Furthermore, kangaroos around Australia are being killed en masse for commercial purposes (kangaroo flesh and skins) as well as “pest” control. Young kangaroos (in pouch or at foot) are victims of this killing process, about 855,000 dependent young yearly. The young ones are either clubbed to death, bashed against a vehicle or left to fend for themselves and therefore likely to succumb to starvation, predation and other internal or external elements causing profound suffering with lethal outcomes. The welfare implications have been deemed more severe than the clubbing of Harp seals. The killing is normally carried out at night in remote areas with virtually no control. Dr Dror Ben-Ami’s report A Shot in the Dark elucidates the various issues concerning kangaroo “harvesting” while also debunking the myth of kangaroos being a “pest”.
Simultaneously, while parties with an economic (or other) interest in killing kangaroos propagate the idea that kangaroos are plentiful across the country and the current “management” sustainable, an in-depth analysis of the available data does not appear to substantiate such a notion. The discordance is presented by ecologist Raymond Mjadwesch in his 2011 Nomination to List the Large Macropods as Threatened Species under the NSW Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995. Among other things, the author identifies critical problems concerning kangaroo counts and kangaroo population growth estimates, citing, for example, the ever changing methodologies and the lack of transparency in relation to the application of correction factors and the inaccessibility of the raw data through publicly available reports, which make reviews and critiques of methodologies and analyses by various researchers difficult. These uncertainties and inconsistencies are also reflected in the “management” of kangaroos in the ACT. As environmental scientist Dr Johannes Bauer summarises in the foreword to Mjadwesh’s report, “I had always believed that this ‘industry’ was bad; I had no idea it was THAT bad.”
The killing of kangaroos by the ACT Government falls under the category of “conservation” rather than commercial killing. Nevertheless, both extermination practices share similarities in approach and outcome. The ACT Government insists that kangaroos have a negative impact on the ecosystem of the reserves, including other animals, and as a result the ACT Government has over the past several years conducted mass killings of kangaroos on these reserves.
These killings are morally unacceptable and scientifically unsubstantiated for these reasons:
1. LACK OF TRANSPARENCY AND ABSENCE OF CONSENSUS REGARDING THE NUMBER OF KANGAROOS AND KANGAROO POPULATION GROWTH ESTIMATES ON RELEVANT RESERVES
The lack of transparency in the counting, evaluation and estimation methods employed by the ACT Government raises serious concerns as it precludes any kind of analysis and independent evaluation of these methodologies and the data themselves.
2. ABSENCE OF CAUSAL EVIDENCE OF THE NEGATIVE IMPACT OF KANGAROOS ON THREATENED SPECIES AND THE ECOSYSTEM AS A WHOLE
The claim that kangaroos negatively impact threatened species as advertised by the ACT Government in previous years is not evidence-substantiated. During the 2013 hearing even Dr Fletcher conceded that such claims served purely PR purposes.
3. ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE OF BENEFICIAL IMPACT ON THE ECOSYSTEM AS A RESULT OF THE KILLING OF KANGAROOS IN PREVIOUS YEARS
With thousands of kangaroos killed annually on these reserves over the past six years and with the ACT Government showing no intention of relinquishing this controversial practice, one would expect that by this stage the ACT Government would be able to demonstrate the benefits (if any) of these killings...
Fact Sheet 2466
4. UNACCEPTABILITY OF KILLING AS A MEANS OF ADDRESSING CONSERVATION PROBLEMS
Over the years the ACT Government has favoured killing over non-lethal options. The Government’s claim to adhere to the National Code of Practice does not guarantee the absence of immense suffering of kangaroos and their young in the killing process. As in commercial killing, in “conservation” killing joeys are decapitated using the same barbaric methods (e.g. clubbing), and inaccurate shots at the targeted animals can occur resulting in prolonged...