There have been a number of petitions and news posts in the past few months aimed at convincing the Australian government to reverse its decision to cull eastern grey kangaroo in native grassland and woodland sites within Canberra Nature Park. This C2NN news post will link to a recent Change.org petition on this matter, which I signed: Stop Kangaroo Killings in Australia ! TAKE ACTION !
Today I received the following response from the Australian government:
Dear Sir or Madam,
Thank you for your email about the ACT Government’s decision to reduce eastern greykangaroo numbers in native grassland and woodland sites within Canberra Nature Park.
The eastern grey kangaroo is the only species subject to the ACT Government’s kangaroo management program. Eastern grey kangaroos are the most abundant species of kangaroo or wallaby nationally and in the ACT, and there is currently no conservation concern for the long-term survival of this species.
The decision to undertake controlled culling of eastern grey kangaroos is one that has not been taken lightly, and is one that the ACT Government needs to take as a responsible land manager. The eastern grey kangaroo is a common species in the ACT and in some areas is becoming over-abundant. There is a significant body of scientific evidence – including a report by the independent Commissioner for Sustainability and the Environment – which identifies that overgrazing by kangaroos is causing damage to some ecosystems. In some cases kangaroos are so over-abundant that there are risks of soil erosion and significant impacts on threatened species such as the Grassland Earless Dragon, Striped Legless Lizard and Golden Sun Moth.
The ACT Government’s kangaroo management program is conducted in a rigorous manner and is based upon sound scientific research. The recent cull was undertaken in accordance with the Kangaroo Management Plan which sets out the ACT Government’s approach to managing the environmental, economic and social impacts of kangaroos to ensure their numbers are maintained at a sustainable level into the future. Kangaroo counts were undertaken prior to the reduction program and the impacts of grazing are measured at a number of sites across the ACT. The aim is not to eliminate kangaroos but to reduce the impacts of kangaroo grazing by reducing numbers to a sustainable population level. Accordingly, a sustainable number of kangaroos is retained at each site. There are also significant areas where no kangaroo culling is planned.
Culling was undertaken in a humane manner according to a strict Code of Practice endorsed by the RSPCA. In accordance with the Code of Practice, culling is only permitted between March and July. The timing of the ACT culling season is designed to improve animal welfare of kangaroos by avoiding the orphaning of dependent young. Licensing requirements for kangaroo shooting in the ACT are also more stringent than any other jurisdiction. For example, the ACT is the only State or Territory which tests shooters and restricts kangaroo shooting to a season (between March and July).
For animal welfare it is not possible to relocate large numbers of kangaroos as this could cause significant trauma during capture and transportation. Translocated animals could risk starvation, distress and injury as a result of panic and disorientation. It is also difficult to source suitable translocation sites where there is food and little competition from existing herbivores.
The ACT Government has a responsibility for the protection of all native species. Maintaining sustainable numbers of kangaroos is the responsible approach and will ensure that grasslands and woodlands are not over-grazed to the detriment of other species. To obtain further information about this program I would encourage you to visit the Territory and Municipal Services website at www.tams.act.gov.au.
Thank you for raising this matter with me. I trust that this information is of assistance.
Jon Stanhope MLA
Minister for Territory and Municipal Services
25 August 2010
I am left with some major concerns regarding the basis of the government’s reasoning. A primary and lingering doubt I find running through my mind is that animals are “translocated” all the time. Woods bison have just been re-introduced to their native territory, in Alaska, from which they had been extinct for some time. In Africa, elephants, rhinoceroses and myriad other animals are re-located all the time. Why, then, has this been dismissed out of hand based on a few conjectured outcomes as stated in the letter above.
Secondly, this is a native species. These kangaroos are not a foreign, invasive species, the introduction of which would have a resounding impact on the eco-system. I am left wondering how the eastern grey kangaroo thrived in this habitat, alongside all the other native species, for thousands of years without causing irreparable harm to those other species and the eco-system until now?
Evidently, our voices have not yet rung loudly enough in the ears of the government to foster even an inkling of reconsideration of the ACT policy. Our efforts must continue. Our voices must be raised more loudly yet. And our commitment to preventing the slaughter of the eastern grey kangaroo cannot waver.