Kangaroo Industry NSW Deliberately Sabotaged the UNIQUE WEST NYANGAY GRAZING PROPERTY
POOR kangaroos cited as being vicious killers waiting to attack people and knock them off their bikes!
Kangaroo habitat has been stolen from them, and wherever they go they are considered brutal pests
It’s not fair to be so labelled instead of being necessary to our environment as regenerators of native grasses.
Will we ever turn this around where it belongs?
Below written by former President of AWPC, Peter Preuss!
In 1996 NSW NPWS CAVED INTO PRESSURE FROM THE KANGAROO INDUSTRY AND DELIBERATELY SABOTAGED THE UNIQUE WEST NYANGAY NSW GRAZING PROPERTY KANGAROOS HAD NOT BEEN KILLED FOR 10 YEARS
(Peter Preuss BSc Botony Zoology and Ecology)
The manager had the radical idea that the rest of the world had it wrong when it came to kangaroo management. In his view, the property had actually improved in terms of overall vegetation cover and therefore potential grazing capacity over the time he had managed the property.
Pointing to the ground, he compared the round hoof print of a cow with the long tapered footprint of a kangaroo…
“When a salt-bush seed falls into the hoof-print of a cow, it might germinate after rain. The seedling however, dies as the evenly distributed moisture on the compacted soil dries up…Any seeding that falls into the footprint of a kangaroo on the other hand, will be washed to the lowest point of the long tapering foot-print of the kangaroo and possibly even be buried in the into hole left by the toe nail. Covered, and with moisture concentrated at one point, the germinating seedling has a far greater chance of survival.”
One day we may look back to this simple observation and ask…how did we not see this when we were killing kangaroos?
HOW COULD WE HAVE GOT IT SO WRONG?
In hind-sight, we may well ask how anyone could have got it so wrong. And yet, be it the consequences of erosion from excessive land clearing or the impact of introducing toads to control cane beetles, Australia’s short history of European settlement is dotted with examples of us ‘getting it wrong’.
Logically, more kangaroos means more kangaroo footprints; more kangaroo footprints means more germination sites for salt-bush seedlings and, more salt bush means more food for kangaroos. Salt-bush and kangaroos, having evolved together on this dry continent may in fact mutually benefit from each other’s existence. As cattle are even more fond of salt-bush than kangaroos, it seems we may need to review the extent to which kangaroos compete …
(image: salt-bush that kangaroos help germinate)
NATIONAL PARKS AND WILDLIFE SERVICE TAKE AN INTEREST
Given the unique situation at West Nyangay, the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service took an interest in the property. But unfortunately, with a change in management came a request by the Romani Pastoral Co. to dramatically reduce kangaroo numbers on the property in line with the zone killing average.
-Prior to issue of tags and subsequent shooting, NPWS would conduct a comprehensive survey of kangaroo on West Nyangay
· For comparison, NPWS to survey a similar sized adjoining property (Nth Bundy) subject to the ‘normal’ commercial shooting
· Based on the survey, kangaroos on West Nyangay would then be reduced by killing a negotiated number (not in line with zone average)
· Rather than the normal commercial practice of killing the larger kangaroos, the cull would take a cross section of the population
· Kangaroo dynamics on West Nyangay would be assessed during the cull and comparisons made with known regional populations.
· The short and medium term response of the population to the cull would be determined before further allocation of commercial tags
During April 1996, NPWS conducted comprehensive aerial counts of kangaroos on both West Nyangay and North Bundy (103)
· West Nyangay had a total of 1,428 kangaroos – more than ten times that of North Bundy. This was not surprising given that kangaroos had not been killed for ten years
· The density of kangaroos on North Bundy, however, was way below the zone average. From these figures alone it was clear that kangaroos were not ‘spilling out’ of West Nyangay and that there should have been no pressure from neighboring properties to kill kangaroos on West Nyangay
· Of considerable concern was the fact that while over 36% of kangaroos on West Nyangay were red kangaroos (515), only one red was counted on North Bundy. Commercial shooting had clearly displaced red kangaroos with greys by preferential harvesting.
· Based on the aerial survey, tags were allocated to kill almost half of the West Nyangay kangaroos. These tags included non commercial tags so that a cross section of the population could be taken. The species, sex and weight of every animal killed was recorded and the kill was well monitored to ensure a cross-sectional approach.
· The results showed that commercial killing distorts the age and sex ratio of kangaroo populations causing them to have the capacity to quickly increase again after every shoot. This together with the displacement of red kangaroos and the movement of kangaroos found to be caused by shooting were damming findings for the kangaroo industry.
· The study also revealed that 30% of the carcasses of commercially killed kangaroos, together with their dead and dying joeys are left in the field by commercial shooters. This promotes feral animals such as pigs and foxes which have other ‘deleterious effects’ on other land management practices.
NSW NPWS SABOTAGE RESEARCH
Finally, the National Parks and Wildlife Service had real data that questioned the value of the commercial shooting kill. Rather than use this data to justify further research, however, the National Parks Service simply issued a further 350 tags for West Nyangay in August 1996. This all but wiped out the kangaroos on West Nyangay. Neighbouring properties were also allowed to commercially take the larger than State average kangaroos as they fled, even though their total densities remained well below the zone average.
The initial program that was negotiated between Australian Wildlife Protection Council (AWPC), the National Parks Service (NPWS) and the Romani Pastoral Company in the interest of ‘real research’ was thus aborted.
Obviously the NPWS realised that the data from West Nyangay showed that commercial shooting threatened the red kangaroo and actually caused grey kangaroos to increase in numbers rapidly after a shoot. Giving in to pressure from the kangaroo industry, NPWS deliberately sabotaged the program.