Kan­ga­roo cull to be a tough choice

The Northern Star - Northern New South Wales Rural Weekly - - News -

KILLING kan­gas is not a pleas­ant sub­ject. I am not re­fer­ring to the va­ri­ety that hasn’t quite got its act to­gether since Wayne Carey roamed Pa­gan’s Pad­dock.

I’m talk­ing about the real-life va­ri­ety that in­vades a great deal many more pad­docks. And therein lies the prob­lem. We are in the midst of a kan­ga­roo plague. A re­cent sur­vey es­ti­mated there are more than 1.4 mil­lion kan­ga­roos in Vic­to­ria, but it is a hard num­ber to pin down.

It does seem low, con­sid­er­ing the con­sen­sus is that there are about 30-50 mil­lion kan­ga­roos na­tion­ally.

They are hop­ping about the state, in­clud­ing outer sub­ur­bia, caus­ing un­told dam­age to fences and ve­hi­cles and eat­ing se­verely di­min­ish­ing live­stock feed.

The touchy sub­ject is how do we con­trol them? The kan­ga­roo has no real nat­u­ral preda­tor, with nature’s only real con­trol be­ing dis­ease, drought or fire. So it falls to hu­man mea­sures. And that means a ri­fle. And that’s where it gets sticky. The kan­ga­roo is our na­tional icon. It’s on our coat of arms, and sym­bol­ises our coun­try in­ter­na­tion­ally. Grab any vis­i­tor list, and on top of it will be to see a kan­ga­roo. (A vis­i­tor who has most likely ar­rived on a plane with a kan­ga­roo em­bla­zoned on its tail.) We have had con­trolled culls of kan­ga­roos for many years. These have usu­ally been met with storms of op­po­si­tion, but for those who live day to day with kan­ga­roos dis­rupt­ing their liveli­hood and safety, it is a nec­es­sary evil.

Li­cenced shoot­ers have been al­lowed to con­trol them un­der strict con­di­tions.

But un­til a few years ago the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment would not let the shoot­ers do any­thing with the car­casses.

So they were left to rot where they fell, at­tract­ing wild dogs and foxes, who would then cause far greater dam­age to live­stock. In 2014, the state gov­ern­ment ap­proved a trial where culled kan­ga­roos could be used for pet food. It was never go­ing to please ev­ery­one. Anti-kan­ga­roo hunt­ing groups said the trial would en­cour­age greater killing. At 3pm on Good Fri­day (talk about re­li­gious tim­ing), the gov­ern­ment ap­proved a 12-month ex­ten­sion of the trial. Clearly, they were try­ing to bury the an­nounce­ment, so as not to cause out­rage among an­i­mal ac­tivists and their sup­port­ers. The state La­bor gov­ern­ment walks a fine line with this is­sue. Kan­ga­roo culling is up there with duck hunt­ing as an is­sue it hopes will go away be­cause it plays out badly in in­ner-city seats it can­not af­ford to lose to the utopian Greens. - Ed Gannon is pub­lisher of The Weekly Times, a sis­ter paper to Ru­ral Weekly.

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