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Wildlife Victoria's Response to Comments About Kangaroo Culling

Shooters and Fishers MP Daniel Young suggested on 26th August 2015 that “Victoria introduce an open season when kangaroos could be hunted like other game species to control kangaroo numbers.”

And the article:

Victorian MP Calls For Open Season On Kangaroos

The situation is “out of control”, according to Harcourt orchardist and cider maker Scott Harrington. He was referring to the growing number of kangaroos that regularly attack his apple trees.

 

WILDLIFE VICTORIA’S RESPONSE

 

KANGAROOS AND HUMAN INTERACTION

The situation:

Since December 2012 there have been an escalating number of human/animal conflicts in regional and peri-urban areas around Melbourne, especially in the northern suburbs. Several factors contribute to this but the main cause is the substantial increase in the human population which has resulted in a doubling of the number of calls concerning kangaroos since December 2012.

Another mitigating factor is that the drought Victoria suffered for many years saw the kangaroo population decline, as a species that breeds to their environmental conditions. With the breaking of the drought and subsequent revegetation of homeland the roos bred to their normal cycle. There has not been an increase in numbers of kangaroos but any real data produced shows a decline in kangaroo numbers since colonisation.

The incidence of human/kangaroo conflict is both a public health issue and a wildlife welfare issue that Wildlife Victoria is left to deal with on a daily basis, including the growing direct cost of darting these animals to enable their safe management. There is also a growing burden on Victoria Police as we engage their assistance when volunteers are unable to attend.

While animal welfare is Wildlife Victoria's primary concern, so too is human life which is at risk every time there is a kangaroo collision with a motor vehicle. In the years ended 30 June 2015 and 2014 we recorded over 6,000 animals hit by vehicles in the state of Victoria with the two preceding years recording 4,655 and 3,801 respectively. We know that the actual numbers are higher as many incidents are not relayed to us due to the fact that animals are killed on impact or that drivers assume an animal is okay as it was able to move away. Many drivers do not report incidents as well, as they fear repercussions.

 

Statistics:

  HIT BY VEHICLE STATS
Year ending date No. of animals (count) No. of macropods Percentage of macropods
03.06.15 6181 3608 58
30.06.14 6125 3552 58
30.06.13 4655 2841 61
30.06.12 3801 1766 46

 

 

Harvesting Kangaroos:

 

All wildlife have a right to exist alongside humans and shouldn’t be seen as a mere resource. These animals should be revered at home as they are internationally and not culled for commercial purposes. The consumption of kangaroo meat is inhumane and misrepresented as a healthy, environmental alternative to livestock meat. The “farming” or “harvesting” of these creatures is carried out by an industry that orphans countless joeys every year when adult female kangaroos are shot leaving their at-foot juveniles with little chance of survival and has led, along with the culling of so called “pests”, to what is the largest land based commercial wildlife slaughter in the world.

 

Despite claims of being ethically farmed, kangaroos cannot be farmed; they are harvested directly from the wild. The nature of harvesting these native animals means kangaroo populations are destabilised and brought dangerously low. Carcasses are stored for days on end in remote locations before being transported to processing plants where contamination of the meat is a high risk that has prompted foreign governments to ban the import of kangaroo produce.

While commercial hunters state that it will put to use the carcasses of animals that have been killed through culls, the reality of putting a commercial kill in place is very different.  The human consumption of animals slaughtered in the wild presents a range of health issues. The ABC's Lateline featured research exposing the dangerous hygiene surrounding kangaroo meat for human consumption and Voiceless and Animal Liberation purchased kangaroo meat for human consumption and had the samples tested in an independent laboratory. These tested positive for salmonella and dangerously high levels of E. coli.

 

Executive chairman of Obesity Australia and Professor of Medicine at Monash University John Funder said given that kangaroos had more L-carnitine per gram than any other red meat, consumers should also be wary of consumption. He said companies selling the meat may also have to reconsider how they market it, given that it is widely perceived to be healthier than other red meats. Professor Funder said the study found an important link between L-carnitine and the build-up of plaque in blood vessels and it was one of several factors likely to be causing heart disease.