Tag Archives: Helen Bergen

Celebrities and Scientists lobby to reinstate Californian ban on kangaroo products

Media Release 24 August 2015

JM Coetzee (Nobel Prize Laureate) and Dr Brian May (astrophysicist and Queen guitarist) join 72 other scientists, academics and public figures urging California to reinstate its ban on imported kangaroo products.

Over 70 scientists, academics, educators and other public figures from Australia, the UK and the United States, including Nobel Prize Laureate JM Coetzee and astrophysicist and Queen guitarist Dr Brian May, have signed an open letter to Californian lawmakers urging reinstatement of the Californian ban on imported products made from kangaroos.

California banned importation of kangaroo products when the United States listed the commercially shot kangaroo species as threatened in 1974. This followed Australia’s own 1973 ban on exported kangaroo products, based on evidence of serious decline in kangaroos.

The US delisted the species in 1995 and California’s import ban temporarily lifted in 2007 after intensive lobbying by the commercial kangaroo industry, Adidas and the Australian Government.

“California’s import ban is due to resume at the end of 2015. The industry is seeking permanent unchecked importation of kangaroo products,” said letter coordinators Helen Bergen and Teja Brooks Pribac.

“Kangaroos grow and breed slowly with high juvenile mortality, and suffer major declines during drought. Intense hunting and systematic eradication programs since British settlement in 1788, and decades of industrial-scale commercial killing beyond reproductive capacity has seen local extinctions of populations.

“Australian government policy favours the commercial industry, despite growing concerns about the science used to justify the commercial kangaroo shooting and export industries.

“Population estimates over-inflate numbers from which unattainable inflated shooting quotas are extracted. This reinforces the myth of kangaroos as abundant and as pests, despite current science indicating otherwise.

“ There is also increasing concern about the known cruelty issues for shot kangaroos and their joeys; and about the risk of pathogens that continue to be found in kangaroo meat,” said scientist Dr Dror Ben-Ami.

“Supporters of the commercial kangaroo industry are quick to deride these concerns, however signatories to the letter are educated and critical-thinking people, who well understand the seriousness of the questions being asked,” added Mses Bergen and Pribac.

“Government custodianship of wildlife should never be driven by commercial interests or mistaken common perceptions. It’s like leaving the fox in charge of the henhouse,” they said.


“We are urging Californian lawmakers to carefully consider the concerns in the letter and not take their advice from the very industry profiting from the massive harm visited on Australia’s kangaroos every night.

Read or download the letter at www.kangaroosatrisk.org

Share This:

Roos in CrossHair – shooting zones being depleted

‘ROOS IN CROSSHAIR’ written by Helen Bergen

Politicians and public servants shouldn’t be allowed to make decisions about things they know nothing about.

Kangaroos are actually in trouble in the commercial shooting states, with the published “estimates” hyper-inflated extrapolations of counted kangaroos in remnant habitat (native cover) over landscapes where government survey raw counts are zero. For example in the western NSW shooting zones Grey kangaroos had declined from 46% absence to 69% absence, and Reds declined from 49 to 56% absence. This is recorded by the NSW Government’s own actual survey count data received under Freedom of Information applications. The “estimates” (not the counts) bear no resemblance whatsoever to what is happening on the ground.

The reason the industry has worked so hard to open up Victoria is because they are running out of kangaroos in the older commercial shooting zones – with zones in each of the commercial shooting states closed down to shooting regularly because not enough kangaroos have been counted.

The fact that the “take” (numbers of shot kangaroos) is less than 20% – 15% at the most, often less than 10% – of the quota in all existing shooting zones should wave a very red flag and invite more critical examination than anyone bothers to apply generally. This is because the quotas are impossible – being hyper-inflated targets for shooting extracted from the hyper-inflated “estimates”.


Victoria originally banned commercial shooting of kangaroos back in the late ’70s/’early 80s because it was recognised that these slow-growing, low-reproducing animals were being shot beyond their reproductive capacity and were in serious trouble. The Australian government then even banned the export of shot kangaroos, and the US government listed them as threatened with the Australian government’s support. Ironically this just made the industry get highly organised and strategised.

It has taken decades for the industry to finally access shooting this native wildlife in Victoria.

Australians really need to learn about our iconic species – I think Darwin was correct in the 1830s when he forecast that the kangaroos’ doom was surely fixed after noting their disappearance from the settlements, the destruction of their habitat (85% of Australia’s open woodland EGK habitat has been cleared) and the devastating effect of men on horses with guns and the English kangaroo hunting dogs – which were efficient kangaroo killers compared to dingoes that like wolves, were not indiscriminate killers of all kangaroos.

What is the story with Australians’ attitudes to kangaroos?

There’s a very strange uneducated disregard by all sectors of the community about kangaroos. I believe that with the opening up of Victoria to commercial shooting, and the juggernaut that is the KIAA/Australian government effort in growing markets – especially in Asia – that my children will see the complete collapse of wild kangaroo populations. And no-one is even noticing it’s happening – with undeserved belief that the survey and extrapolation methodologies to arrive at the kangaroo population ‘estimates’ stand up to scientific scrutiny. They don’t.

Learn something: www.kangaroosatrisk.net



Share This:

We won!

Thanks to everyone who emailed Californian Senators. You joined up to 100,000 people around the world who signed petitions and contacted the Senators directly.

Thankyou California

Keep an eye on our website www.kangaroosatrisk.org for more pages going up soon about ecology, surveys and the industry.

Brilliant work by the amazing Californian lobbyist Jennifer Fearing, our partner US team Humane Society US and CA, and the wonderful Australian organisations who co-signed letters to Californian senators and put out the call via their networks. It’s been an inspiring win.

Everyone rocks!

Helen Bergen
Bathurst NSW Australia
+61 (0)423 405 993
Kangaroos at Risk
science & research


Share This: