Author Archives: Peter Hylands

Critical state of biodiversity health


2021 AWPC President’s Report to membership

I WOULD LIKE to start by thanking the dedicated AWPC committee and members for their contribution in what has been a very difficult two years since my presidency commenced and for all Australian species, in seas and oceans, in the sky and on the land.

In the two years I have been privileged to be President of the AWPC in Australia, three billion native animals are estimated to have died in catastrophic fires, ten million Kangaroos and their young have been killed in the most cruel and disgraceful circumstances and authorities to kill wildlife have been issued by state and territory governments in vast numbers and for a staggering array of species. Hardly a success story, but I take comfort from a knowledgeable colleague in Canberra who says “the very worst thing would be to stop trying”. And tried we have, each and every one.

The AWPC committee and AWPC members have engaged in the following activities in support of Australian wildlife:

  • education and advocacy including submissions to politicians, particularly in Victoria and in the ACT and federally in regard to the escalating killing of kangaroos, biodiversity loss and policy, the plight of Australian birdlife, particularly duck shooting;
  • highlighting the plight of wildlife carers;
  • campaigns from NSW focusing on the use of native wildlife as petfood and co-existing with wildlife;
  • supporting state-based wildlife groups whether on behalf of kangaroo species including support with content for Kangaroos Alive on World Kangaroo Day;
  • providing information to community wildlife groups; and
  • liaison and support for international wildlife campaigns and organisations such as the Centre for Humane Economy in the United States.

We also thank our numerous partner organisations and are particularly proud of our part in the development of the International Kangaroo Protection Alliance, a grouping of international experts connecting Europe, the Middle East, the United States and the Asia Pacific to inform governments about the consequences of the exploitation, cruelty and loss of Australian wildlife, in this case the growing number of species of Kangaroo and Wallaby now exploited for commercial gain.

Over the last two years I have done numerous media interviews, a majority on radio and many overseas.

Solutions to the serious nature of extreme biodiversity loss in Australia

There is no sugar-coating of what is occurring in Australia and things have become continually worst, regardless of our efforts to slow the destruction of biodiversity. Conduct in relation to climate change is an exact parallel.

The best things we can do are:

  • to inform the public of what is occurring and what the consequences of the loss of biodiversity are, including directly to the people who live in this country;
  • to properly inform Indigenous people in Australia — who are subject to black-washing in Australia by governments and industry who are exploiting biodiversity in Australia — about the scope and scale of the destruction to their lands and species;
  • to motivate young people to take biodiversity loss as seriously as they now take climate change, the two are one in terms of their impacts on human futures;
  • to encourage those individuals with large land holdings in Australia, particularly farmers, to use modern methods of farming which include biodiversity in the landscape;
  • to finally put an end to the disgraceful and commercial exploitation of land-based Australian wildlife;
  • to think carefully about land clearing practices in Australia, which remain at scale and are intensely damaging to biodiversity and do little for economic development;
  • to look closely at increasingly silly fire mitigation practices in Australia which include burning-off at vast scale, leaving fires to burn which eventually become fire storms, to stop burning tropical wet forests (driven by financial gain and silly carbon mitigation practices) that destroy the wet tropics and create environments that are now at extreme risk of catastrophic fires;
  • to engage and inform the general public to respect those things that are Australian and have evolved here, it is beginning to happen for the plant kingdom so it can happen for fauna as well;
  • to protect the integrity of research at Australian Universities to ensure it is independent and free from influence (sadly the most important courses in major Australian Universities are being closed, this is no accident);
  • to make governments accountable for their actions; and
  • to internationalise the fight to protect Australia’s precious species.

If we don’t do these things, and fast, there will be nothing. In the end it can only be up to us, and that is everyone, and everywhere.

The AWPC and government submissions

The AWPC has had an intensive period of advocating for wildlife including submission, meetings and sometimes appearances at government inquiries, work taking hundreds of hours of research and authorship as well as sharing of knowledge to politicians and their staff and moral support of witnesses. This work remains an important part of AWPC’s contribution to wildlife conservation and survival in Australia.

We have contributed to the following inquiries during my time as President:

  • Inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in New South Wales.
  • Victoria’s Wildlife Act Review.
  • Victoria’s biodiversity loss inquiry.
  • Victorian Auditor’s Ramsar inquiry.
  • Inquiry into the operation of the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (joint submission).
  • AgriFutures: National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the way the AWPC and its committee and members were treated by this organisation can only be described as disgraceful).

The role of Governments in Australia in enabling and promoting the mass killing of Australian native species for commercial gain, sport and recreation and ‘mitigation’.

Australian mammal and bird species are in the front line of government-enabled killing activities. Australian fauna has few friends in government, all major parties are engaged in enabling its destruction. Typically governments apply the same tactics as each other to enable the mass killing of wildlife involving misleading and inaccurate information. This is a general rule, with a few exceptions, the individuals defending and caring for Australia’s wildlife are not paid for their immensely hard work and contingent suffering, while those exploiting wildlife commercially or promoting and enabling the numerous wildlife killing activities around the Australian Continent are paid handsomely for their grim conduct. This conduct is increasingly secretive (because it is so bad and they know it) while the pretence is for increasing transparency.

As I reported last year the aggressive actions by all Australian Governments in enabling the large scale killing of wildlife is and has occurred despite the catastrophic fires of the 2019–20 summer and these activities are further contributing to regional extinctions and species endangerment. As before, government actions against native species are creating significant expenditures for taxpayers who are funding the enabling of and marketing of the acceptability of the killing, a process which further demeans the Australian species being targeted.

A classic example of government conduct promoting and enabling the killing of wildlife was my visit to the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) to meet politicians in Canberra regarding the killing of Kangaroos in the territory’s parks and reserves. I visited the ACT Legislative Assembly with leading wildlife experts and concerned individuals to meet with Greens MP Jo Clay and her staff.

Among other things Jo is the spokesperson for ‘Active Travel and Road Safety, Planning, Parks and Conservation, Animal Welfare’. The Greens are now a powerful force in the ACT yet they remain determined killers of Kangaroos in the territory while the ACT’s Environment Minister, Rebecca Vassarotti, also a Green and defender of the killing and cruelty (based on nonsense) refused to see our group. So the killing of Kangaroos in the ACT went ahead again this year despite the vast array of evidence that shows it should not have occurred and despite the great loss of biodiversity in the ACT from climate-related fire storms. The Greens in the ACT have yet again been no friend to Australian wildlife, happily this has not been the case in NSW and Victoria where the Greens have been very supportive of efforts to safeguard the future of Australian species.

While the general assumption is that Liberal and National Coalition Governments are the worst when it comes to protection of wildlife, Labor can surprisingly be worse, as has been the case in Victoria since 2014. The Queensland Government is also particularly terrible. My advice to the national leadership of the Labor Party, and particularly Anthony Albanese, is to take a very close look at what is being done to the natural world in states where Labor is in power and to look carefully at those parts of the public service that are promoting and enabling the mass killing activities within those states.

Cruelty to wildlife

There is no doubt in my mind that the conduct of governments in Australia contributes to the ‘entitlement’ of those harming wildlife, either believing theirs is a valid cause or giving them the confidence that the most extreme acts of cruelty will never be investigated or prosecuted.

Again a top-line example here is what is being done to Kangaroo and Wallaby species in Australia. An update to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) was released on Wednesday 18 November 2020. The protections for Kangaroos were further weakened by this update.

The purpose of these codes of practice in relation to Kangaroos in Australia are twofold:

  • To legitimise extreme acts of cruelty which would otherwise be illegal by negating animal cruelty legislation; and
  • To create the impression for consumers, particularly overseas consumers, that Australia’s trade in wildlife, in this case members of the Kangaroo family, is humane and is closely managed for compliance, nothing could be further from the truth.

Governance standards relating to wildlife

We note a general lack of compliance inspection activities in relation to killing of wildlife while governments, both politicians and public servants, claim the opposite in their correspondence with those raising concerns about what is being done to wildlife generally or individuals reporting actual crimes against wildlife and related activity.

While incorrect claims continue to be made by governments regarding compliance matters, sustainability and animal welfare standards and cruelty, and Victoria is an example, complex inter departmental and agency structures are deliberately created to diffuse accountability and responsibility for what are extreme acts of cruelty, lack of compliance and highly dubious and likely inaccurate constructs on which decisions are based, making it impossible for complainants and wildlife experts to improve the situation for wildlife.

Commercial trade in wildlife in Australia

The issues created by the commercial trade in wildlife and the horrors associated with it are starkly revealed by the New South Wales Government Inquiry into the health and wellbeing of kangaroos and other macropods in New South Wales. I suggest you read the report (the draft of which was heavily amended by the Coalition Government and Labor) as well as reading the transcripts and submissions.

In Victoria the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos includes the following facts:

  • Much of the commercial killing is occurring on land that is not farmed — Dunkeld is a classic example of this;
  • The killing rate of Kangaroo species subject to commercial exploitation has near tripled since the introduction of the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial in 2014 — this is completely unsustainable;
  • Claims that for 2021 that the population of Grey Kangaroos in the State had increased by 41 percent are not credible, nor possible;
  • Commercial permits in Victoria for killing Kangaroos — the Victorian Government’s own authorisation to shooters based on which commercial wildlife licenses are issued Conditions of Authorisation under section 28A of the Wildlife Act 1975, to hunt, take, destroy, possess, dispose of and sell Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos in accordance with the approved Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021–2023 clearly states that “Kangaroos with obvious dependent young must not be shot”. The last figures I have from DELWP, which are recent show that 30 percent of the Kangaroos killed for commercial purposes are now female and in a recent period 14,000 females have been killed resulting in the death of 13,800 joeys (so this destroys three generations of Kangaroos in one go, how is this sustainable?). This also says a great deal about the standards of governance in Victoria, total lack of any compliance and action resulting in clear breaches of the regulations; and
  • For the government to suggest what is done to Kangaroos is humane is nonsense, the global Internet is full of the most heinous images of commercial and non-commercial shooters abusing Kangaroos and these images are available to governments around the world, some of which are now taking action to ban Kangaroo products, in the case of the United States, this is occurring purely on grounds of EXTREME cruelty.

Each state has precisely the same issues. My view is that South Australia is the worst of an extremely bad bunch when it comes to the commercial exploitation of Kangaroos, the state also has a catastrophic record of native species loss and endangerment.

My view is that there are at least three species in the Macropod family that are being exploited commercially that should be on the threatened species list, these are from South Australia, the Sooty Kangaroo and Tammar Wallaby from Kangaroo Island and the Forester Kangaroo in Tasmania. To go after these species commercially demonstrates just how shockingly poor the standards are in terms of safeguarding the future of Australian wildlife.

Australian Birdlife

Regardless of climate conditions and significant declines in waterbird populations, the mass killing of birdlife continues. In Tasmania, South Australia and Victoria this year the killing of waterbirds continued despite COVID and the objections of the vast majority of residents who want the killing to stop.

In the Northern Territory (NT) the Magpie geese and waterfowl season commenced on private land on 16 August and on public land on 22 September. The killing will finally stop for the season on 10 January 2022. Waterbird species being killed this year in the NT are the Magpie goose, Pacific Black Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead duck, Wood Duck, Wandering Whistling Duck and Pink-eared Duck. The collateral damage to other species of these activities is also substantial. On a personal note to say I spend a lot of time in the NT in places and with cultures I love, so in relation to wildlife I have a very good understanding of how things have changed over a long period of time, my assessment of what has occurred in not positive.

The other states, (while pretending they have no mass killing events relating to waterbirds) and here NSW is a classic example, where the following duck species are shot for sport (and ‘mitigation’) and often in large numbers and on private land, Australian Shelduck, Australian Wood Duck, Black Duck, Blue-winged Shoveler, Chestnut Teal, Grass Whistling Duck, Grey Teal, Hardhead Duck, Pink-eared Duck and Water Whistling Duck.

We should not forget the mass killing of native quail species for recreation, typically in those states with a duck shooting season encompassing public lands.

Ramsar sites

The state of Ramsar sites in Australia can be appalling, littered with rubbish, parts of dead birds, shot and associated gun waste, plastic and alcohol containers. Meanwhile in the ‘official’ bird-shooting states and territories the prime economic benefit of Ramsar sites is not being achieved, these things are tourism, nature-based tourism including the international circuit of twitchers and those interested in wildlife and other non-violent recreational activities. These alternate uses have a much greater regional benefit than 12-week seasons of bird shooting. I dislike visiting these places at any time of year because of what we know goes on there.

Killing of Australian wildlife in National and State Parks

I have become increasingly concerned about the number of native animals being killed by environment departments on public lands and wildlife rescues being blocked by public servants in times of natural crisis, particularly fires, all of it amid claims of overabundance. Nonsense of course and what we are doing here is softening the ground for commercial exploitation of wildlife in State and National Parks. Victoria and the ACT are leaders in this game. In Victoria the numbers of native animals being killed by government departments, and for dubious reasons, are staggering.

Australia wildlife now in the food supply chain of zoos, both in Australia and internationally

When zoos are asking the public to donate to them because they care about Australian wildlife, little does the public suspect that zoos too are now complicit in the commercial exploitation of a growing number of Australian species. Kangaroos and Wallabies are in the frontline here.

If zoo food and petfood were not a poorly enough thought through end for Australian wildlife, the Victorian Government knows no bounds to its creativity in destroying and exploiting wildlife, introducing Kangaroo meat for preschool children on its recommended lunch menu, and doing so in a time of a zoonotic pandemic. Given China’s and Russia’s well researched concerns about the health consequences of consuming Australia’s native wildlife, one would expect Victoria’s young people deserve something better.

Exclusion fencing and Australian wildlife

Australian wildlife has fewer and fewer places to exist. Publicly funded and often vast areas of wildlife-proof fencing, some designed explicitly for entrapment, are now commonplace. These horrific fences, many at tax payers expense, are now everywhere in places you might expect to be free of them, parts of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula are one such example. These fences disrupt wildlife movements, deny access to water and food and allow the unscrupulous to shoot or run-down wildlife on mass as animals are trapped along fence lines. It is extraordinary that departments of environment encourage their construction as a way to exclude wildlife.

Rapid growth of commercial wildlife trade between Australian states and territories as wildlife exterminated in some mainland regions

Are we emptying Tasmania of its Wallabies? The answer is probably yes unless we stop a growing trend of mainland-driven commercial exploitation of Tasmanian species.

An example of what goes on is the impact just this one commercial wildlife processing plant development would have.

Some very troubling news from Central Victoria in September 2021 suggested that a local meat works wanted to open up a Kangaroo processing facility, that would, when fully operational, process 2,000 Kangaroos each week. That is 104,000 Kangaroos in one year.

In 2021, the entire commercial trade in wildlife quota for Kangaroos in Victoria this year is 95,680. So just one of a number of Kangaroo meat processing plants in Victoria, plans to process more than the quota for the whole state.

Even using the government’s inflated population numbers for the shire where the plant will be located, the entire commercial quota for that shire would be consumed in just over a week. The expectation would be that Kangaroo carcasses would be imported from elsewhere in Victoria and neighbouring states.

NSW, as its Kangaroo populations plummet, appears to be, and quietly so, importing large numbers of Wallabies from Tasmania.

Use of authorities to control wildlife

Permission to kill Australian wildlife are issued on request and are issued at scale and with increasingly lax consideration of reasons. Our view is that no, or very few, applications are refused and almost no follow-ups occur while the pretence is that Australian wildlife is protected. Here is an example of what is on the Australian kill list:

Method of killing in Victoria as recommended and authorised by the Victorian Government listed in italic after the name (supplied DELWP 25/2/2020)

  1. Australian Fur Seal — shoot
  2. Australian King-parrot — shoot
  3. Australian Magpie — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  4. Australian Magpie Lark — shoot, trap gas
  5. Australian Pelican — shoot
  6. Australian Raven — shoot
  7. Australian Shelduck — shoot
  8. Australian White Ibis — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  9. Bell Miner — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  10. Black Kite — shoot
  11. Black Swan — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  12. Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike — shoot
  13. Black-tailed Native-hen — shoot
  14. Brown Antechinus — trap gas
  15. Brown Goshawk — shoot, trap shoot
  16. Bush Rat — trap gas
  17. Cape Barren Goose — shoot
  18. Chestnut Teal — shoot
  19. Brushtail Possum — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  20. Ringtail Possum — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  21. Bare-nosed Wombat — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  22. Copperhead — shoot
  23. Crimson Rosella — shoot
  24. Dingo — shoot, trap shoot, poison
  25. Dusky Moorhen — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  26. Eastern Brown Snake — shoot
  27. Eastern Grey Kangaroo — shoot
  28. Eastern Rosella — shoot
  29. Emu — shoot (this is a particularly gruesome and cruel activity)
  30. Eurasian Coot — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  31. Fairy Martin — destroy eggs and nest
  32. Galah — shoot, trap gas
  33. Great Cormorant — shoot
  34. Grey Butcherbird — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  35. Grey Teal — shoot
  36. Grey-headed Flying-fox — shoot
  37. Hardhead — shoot
  38. Highland Copperhead — shoot
  39. Koala — secretly euthanised with Ministerial permission
  40. Laughing Kookaburra — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  41. Little Black Cormorant — shoot
  42. Little Corella — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  43. Little Crow — shoot
  44. Little Lorikeet — shoot
  45. Little Pied Cormorant — shoot
  46. Little Raven — shoot
  47. Little Red Flying-fox — shoot
  48. Little Wattlebird — shoot
  49. Long-billed Corella — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  50. Magpie Goose — shoot
  51. Mallee Ringneck — shoot
  52. Maned Duck — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot
  53. Masked Lapwing — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  54. Musk Lorikeet — shoot
  55. Noisy Friarbird — shoot
  56. Noisy Miner — shoot, trap gas, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  57. Pacific Black Duck — shoot
  58. Pacific Heron — shoot
  59. Pied Currawong — shoot
  60. Pink-eared Duck — shoot
  61. Plumed Whistling-duck — shoot
  62. Purple Swamphen — shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  63. Purple-crowned Lorikeet — shoot
  64. Rainbow Lorikeet — shoot
  65. Red Kangaroo — shoot
  66. Red Wattlebird — shoot
  67. Red-bellied Black Snake — shoot
  68. Red-necked Wallaby — shoot
  69. Red-rumped Parrot — shoot
  70. Richard’s Pipit — shoot
  71. Rufous Night Heron — shoot
  72. Satin Bowerbird — shoot
  73. Scaly-breasted Lorikeet — shoot
  74. Silver Gull — shoot, trap gas, destroy eggs and nest
  75. Silvereye — shoot
  76. Straw-necked Ibis — shoot
  77. Sulphur-crested Cockatoo — shoot, trap gas
  78. Swamp Rat — trap gas
  79. Swamp Wallaby — shoot
  80. Tammar Wallaby — shoot (curious indeed, SA mainland species thought extinct until recently)
  81. Tiger Snake — shoot
  82. Water Rat — shoot, trap gas
  83. Welcome Swallow — shoot, trap shoot, destroy eggs and nest
  84. Western Brown Snake — shoot
  85. Western Grey Kangaroo — shoot
  86. White-faced Heron — shoot
  87. White-winged Chough — shoot, trap gas
  88. Yellow Rosella — shoot
  89. Yellow-faced Honeyeater — shoot
  90. Yellow-footed Antechinus — trap and gas
  91. Yellow-tailed Black-cockatoo — shoot
  92. Yellow-throated Miner — shoot.

The list and number of wildlife to be ‘controlled’ in Victoria are greater than those shown above (which are all on the kill list). It should be noted that within the government tables that provide this information there is an UNSPECIFIED category, which according to the environment department, means scare. While the UNSPECIFIED category has been applied as an alternative in the government table and to many of the species above, there is little evidence, and the department has not been able to provide any, that scaring is an option that is much used for those species listed above (flying foxes and a couple of bird species aside). The bullet is by far the most favoured method of ‘control’.

Climate change and Australia

We all already know too much about COP26 and what happened there. So what do Australian GHG emissions really look like? Having a good sense of what is actually happening is so important to the future of Australia’s biodiversity. I would like you all to think about the Great Barrier Reef as an indicator of how poorly Australia’s biodiversity is factored into the Australian Government’s attitudes to climate change and its impacts, which for Australian species is profound.

For an understanding of what the situation looked like pre-COVID, the Australian Greenhouse Gas Inventory suggests that in 2019 total (all sectors) GHG emissions fell by 0.9 percent compared with 2018, these emissions should fall by 7.6 percent on average each year over 2020 to 2030 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius over the period. Here are our main comments:

  • Renewable energy’s share of electricity emissions was the main reason for lower emissions, with black coal generation falling in the fourth quarter of 2019. To the lowest level in three years. New South Wales sourced 19 percent of electricity generation from renewables, Victoria 23 percent. Share has continued to increase to 2021.
  • The 2019 drop, however, was much less than required to meet Paris Accord targets.
  • In 2020 the trend is to lower electricity consumption as Covid-19 impacts became evident and also for lower liquid fuels for transport.
  • Demand has grown at an annual average of 3.7 percent per annum, so would be 50 percent higher in 2030 than today. To reach climate change targets all the new capacity would have to be fossil free. Trends have been moderated by COVID lockdowns including a reduction in demand of around 10 percent in the City of Melbourne, while demand in the outer suburbs of Melbourne has increased. High levels of solar uptake will continue to reduce demand for fossil fuel generated electricity as will the collapse in migration during the COVID period.
  • AEMO, in an April 2020 study, reported that the main electricity grid could accommodate up to 75 percent renewables by 2025 if the system were effectively transformed and managed. Without actions to ensure grid stability, wind and solar generation would have to be curtailed (not accepted into the grid) by 50 to 60 percent of their potential contribution. This would threaten the viability of wind and solar projects.
  • Fuel efficiency standards are urgently needed in Australia but are being resisted by the Federal Government. Australian transport sector emissions now account for about 18 percent of total national emissions, but the transport sector lacks any real climate change policy action. In its 2020 annual report, the National Transport Commission found the average new car emissions were just 0.2 percent lower than 2018. This level trails that of most developed countries. Recent media suggests that Australia is now becoming the dumping ground for higher emitting vehicles which would be illegal in other countries.
  • Apart from electricity sub-sector emissions, which are reducing due to renewables (wind and solar) penetrations, emissions are rising in non-electricity stationary, transport, fugitives, industrial processes, agriculture and waste sub-sectors where there are virtually no policies or programs addressing emission reductions apart from the A$3.5 billion Climate Solutions Fund mainly directed at agriculture, land-use/land-use change and forestry.
  • The bushfires across Australia in 4Q 2019 and 1Q 2020 likely caused emissions to reach almost double 2019 National Greenhouse Gas Inventory measured emissions but are not included in the inventory as it is assumed that regrowth sequesters these emissions. Given the catastrophic nature of what occurred this is extremely unlikely.
  • If Australian fossil fuel exports were factored into Australia’s emissions, its contribution to global emissions would be in the region of 3.5–4 percent rather than 1.3 percent. This would make Australia the world’s sixth-largest contributor to climate change, by far the highest per capita emissions on Earth. Hard to measure, our view remains that fugitive emissions (particularly Methane) from fossil fuel production, including coal, remain significantly understated in Australia’s reporting systems and may have a significant impact on total emissions from this continent.

We all live in this world and we should have the basic sense to look after it.

— Peter Hylands
President, Australian Wildlife Protection Council

November 2021

IMAGERY: Habitat loss and climate extremes contributing to loss of diversity of native Australian wildlife.


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Canberra, Australia-wide kangaroos under the gun

See some lovely images (by Andrea Hylands)
of them ALIVE

on a regional NSW property


We are walking in the parks and reserves that comprise the Canberra Nature Park, there are currently 39 nature reserves that make up the park system in and around urban Canberra. Walking in the parks, the first thing you notice is that there are no Eastern Grey Kangaroos, no Wallaroos and even Wallabies are now very hard to find. So what has happened to them all?

“Life for animals in the wild has always been difficult, in Australia’s landscapes of fear it is harder still.”
— Peter Hylands


The idea of shooting Kangaroos in Canberra’s nature reserves turned to reality in 2004 when about 800 Kangaroos were shot in the reserve adjacent to Googong Dam. While this land is in New South Wales the land is managed by the ACT Government and hence was this government’s first direct foray into the world of mass killing of Australian wildlife, namely Kangaroos. Since then many thousands of Kangaroos have been shot and bashed to death under instruction from the ACT Government. So not even the Bush Capital is a place that Kangaroos can call home. The long term contract to keep killing has several years to run and is likely to take every remaining Kangaroo in the region.

“One of the most poignant memories, one that keeps me awake at night, from Canberra are the descriptions of the ghost joey populations, without mothers after the mass slaughter in Canberra’s nature parks and reserves. Milk dependant joeys lined up along roadsides, crying for their mothers’ and dying under the aggressive wheels of uncaring motorists. Those ghosts will never leave me.”
— Peter Hylands

Pressure for commercialised killing in the ACT

“There is no commercial harvesting of Kangaroos in the ACT though the question of whether the animals that are culled (eg on rural properties) could be used is sometimes raised”. — ACT Government

“About 92,000 kilograms of Kangaroo carcass has ended up at the tip after the most recent cull wrapped up on Friday … An undisclosed but likely small amount is processed into baits for wild dog and fox control”.
Canberra Times, 28 July 2019

Killing Kangaroos in Canberra is an expensive business and the public pays. Here are some numbers (total costs), again under FOI, for financial year 2015–16 $856,671.58; 2016–17 $715,345.48; 2017–18 $855,022.39; 2018–19 $893,660.51. During this period $866,756.12 was paid to commercial shooters to kill Kangaroos in nature reserves in the ACT (this figure is included in the annual figures given here). The current contract with shooters runs for five years at a cost of $880,000 as payment to shooters plus admin costs which appear to be averaging out at around $613,500 per annum.

Canberra’s dirty secret. (Image supplied)

Conclusion: The ACT seems to be a leader in developing policies that continue to push the limits of what is being done to Kangaroos, what is ‘lawful’, what levels of cruelty are acceptable and what rates of killing can be tolerated. As elsewhere, numbers are exaggerated and current killing rates are a very long way from sustainable. All of it driven by concocted ideologies and complex reasoning for destroying the native animals that belong in these landscapes, where they have existed for millions of years.

Particularly terrible aspects to the treatment of Kangaroos in the ACT include a policy that Kangaroos and their joeys MUST NOT be rescued and rehabilitated if they are injured in the ACT and another, the use of Kangaroo meat as a vector for 1080 poison. There are very substantial fines for Canberra residents protesting the Kangaroo slaughter on their doorstep and, as in other parts of Australia, the people who care about wildlife have few or no rights. Hardly democratic conduct. There is a clear lack of wildlife corridors between nature parks and reserves in the Canberra Park system, the lack of which creates road safety issues and the death of a large number of Australian animals across a range of species as they try to cross the major roads intersecting the parks. To add to this, exclusion fencing is now being used to exclude wildlife from significant areas within the nature parks.

So let’s put Canberra and the ACT into context with what is happening to Kangaroos in other states and territories in mainland Australia. Let’s do this by pulling some government numbers and statements from their websites. We don’t need a vast amount of detail, we will just pull out a few things that can only be described as shocking. These comparisons depict a shameful set of activities underpinned by marketing spin and disinformation from those responsible.

“A couple of hundred years ago some fellas rowed ashore on the continent and proceeded to shoot everything that moved or flew, and chop down and dig up everything that didn’t. How the Aboriginal people standing and watching this event survived that day is a miracle. These whitefellas were collecting specimens to take back to Motherland; a scientific expedition”.

The Commonwealth Government’s Department of Agriculture still claims that the population of Kangaroos subject to a commercial trade in wildlife is 50 million. This claim is nonsense. If we add up the latest state by state population estimates across the places Kangaroos are killed commercially, that is in those places they still exist in numbers to make this possible, we get a population number of around 34.3 million. This last number is an exaggeration given the silly numbers coming out of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. The evidence on the ground is that Kangaroos are increasingly hard to find in more and more places and population estimates are driven by silly claims of booming populations, when state government figures (with the exception of Victoria in 2021) mostly show precisely the opposite is occurring.

These Commonwealth Government numbers have surfaced from an FOI request: World value of Kangaroo exports (A$ current value) 2014 — $20.25 million (4,216.89 tonnes of meat); export value 2019  — $14.86 million and a volume of 2,581.18. This represents a decline in value, when the two periods are compared, of 27 percent in value and 39 percent in volume. Reasons for decline are likely to be twofold, it has become much harder to source Kangaroos because of steep declines in population (hence opening up Victoria to the commercial trade) and the low value (and difficult work life) for shooters. (NB – when I try to run calculations on these numbers I cannot make sense of them). In 2018, as a very rough figure, this puts an export value of each Kangaroo at around A$10. The value of the export of skins has been hard to obtain so we will add more information when we can.

In this same document (2020) the Commonwealth Government claims a total population of the species subject to a trade in wildlife (bushmeat) of 45.4 million Kangaroos (while still claiming a population of 50 million on their agriculture website — both numbers are nonsense). The government tells us that 1.44 million Kangaroos were killed in 2018 for commercial purposes, they claim just 3.1 percent of the total population of these target species in the shooting zones where they are killed, also nonsense. This document also tells us that there are 1,400 licensed Kangaroo shooters in Australia. The 2016 Australian Census shows that 309 people in Australia gave their main work area as Hunting and Trapping (all species), that is, 72 people in New South Wales, 100 in Queensland, 66 in Victoria, 20 in South Australia, 24 in Western Australia, 12 in Tasmania, 12 in the Northern Territory and 3 in the Australian Capital Territory. This probably indicates that the commercial killing of Kangaroos is mostly a part-time occupation, akin to low-paid piece work.


We will start with adjoining New South Wales. Four species of Macropod, the larger Kangaroos, are part of the commercial trade in wildlife occurring in New South Wales. The species are the Red Kangaroo (Macropus rufus), the Eastern Grey Kangaroo (M. giganteus), the Western Grey Kangaroo (M. fuliginosus) and the Eastern Wallaroo (M. robustus). These Kangaroos are killed for commercial purposes within fifteen commercial Kangaroo shooting zones. Killing Kangaroos for commercial purposes is currently prohibited within National Parks and other reserved areas in NSW.

At the same time as the claims that populations are exploding in Victoria (by 41 percent from the previous year), the New South Wales Government advised its Kangaroo population had plummeted by 25.5 percent. The New South Wales annual survey estimated there were 10.5 million animals in 2020, compared to 14 million in 2019. It is a significant collapse since a peak of 17 million was reported in 2016.

Here are two of the western / central shooting zones in the state. For the Grey Kangaroos in the Tibooburra shooting zone the government’s population estimate for 2016 for this species in this zone was 451,594, by 2020 the population estimate had fallen to 6,859. For the Red Kangaroo in the Cobar shooting zone the population estimate in 2016 was 437,129, by 2020 the population estimate was 102,480.

Conclusion: Given what has been done to Kangaroos in the state over the last decade, the New South Wales Government is pushing its luck in claiming a population number of 10.5 million. Time will be the judge.


At the time of writing this, two species are shot commercially in Victoria, the Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo. Ten percent of the estimated population is targeted in the annual quota. Absurdly, given declines almost everywhere else in Australia, the Victorian Government claims a significant increase in its Kangaroo populations.

Here is what the population numbers for the commercially targeted Kangaroo species in Victoria currently look like. The commercial industry (as a trial) commenced in Victoria in 2014 and without any understanding of Kangaroo populations in the state. The trial was completed by late 2019 and the full industry commenced at that time. The first population survey was conducted in 2017 and included three species, the Red and the two Grey Kangaroos. The 2017 population estimate for these species was 1,442,000. Since 2014 and including 2021 the government will have issued permits (commercial and non-commercial) to kill 1,213,111 Kangaroos, a number that excludes joeys which are also killed. Add to this the catastrophic fire in 2019–20 (they were bad the year before as well). So if we include the killing of joeys and the Kangaroos which perished in the worst fires in Victoria’s colonial history, we get to a number of 1,523,111 supposedly dead Kangaroos in the period since 2014, more than the 2017, 2018 and 2020 population estimates for these species. In 2021 we suddenly get a population estimate (for the Greys only) of 1,911,550, a population increase of over 40 per cent over the previous survey. That is, a population increase of Grey Kangaroos in Victoria of well over half a million over the previous year estimates (2020) and the previous survey (2018), despite the catastrophic fires of 2020.

What we can say with certainty is that the probability of a sudden population increase in 2021 is zero. And this year the Victorian Government want to kill more Kangaroos than ever before.

As a point of history, the Victorian Government population estimate for the Red Kangaroo in Victoria was 6,000 in the year 2000, in the 2017 survey when they counted just 23 Red Kangaroos, the government then estimated the population to be 13,000, in the 2018 survey they counted 91 Red Kangaroos, this gave a population estimate of 44,000. Since 2009 the Victorian Government has issued permits to kill 59,214 Red Kangaroos PLUS their joeys — many of these on public lands including State and National Parks.

The very concerning thing here, is that, in the period 2009 to 2012 permits were issued to kill 2,155 Red Kangaroos, by 2016 to 2019 this number had risen to 43,191 (2019 is the last year I currently have comprehensive data for). So it is highly probable that the Victorian Government was issuing permits to kill Red Kangaroos well in excess of their Victorian population. If the early years in this time series are compared with the later ones the difference in the number of Red Kangaroos (year high and lows) is 15 (in 2010) to 15,187 (in 2017). That is 1,012 times higher.

For these reasons and the evident silliness of the numbers, the Red Kangaroo was removed from the commercial trade in wildlife list towards the end of 2019. By counting them again in 2020, and as Grey Kangaroo populations in the state are destroyed, it looks to me as if the Victorian Government is conniving to put the Red Kangaroo back on the commercial trade in wildlife list once more.

Conclusion: Claims of increased populations are silly. Very silly.


Six species of Kangaroo and Wallaby are now killed commercially in South Australia, the Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo, The Sooty Kangaroo from Kangaroo Island, The Kangaroo Island Tammar Wallaby, the Red Kangaroo and the Euro.

2020: “South Australia’s Kangaroo commercial harvest zone will be expanded, and the 2020 quota has been set to help manage Kangaroos, as well as support primary producers. The Kangaroo commercial harvest zone will be expanded from South Australia’s pastoral area to cover Yorke Peninsula, Adelaide Hills, Fleurieu Peninsula, South East and Kangaroo Island. The species of Kangaroo available for commercial harvest will include three new species, Tammar Wallaby (note from Peter Hylands:  mainland species once thought to be extinct), Kangaroo Island sub-species of Western Grey Kangaroo (Sooty Kangaroo) (until recently listed as threatened) and Eastern Grey Kangaroo (note from Peter Hylands: classified as rare in South Australia until they decided to kill them commercially), as well as the existing species of Red Kangaroo, Western Grey Kangaroo and Euro.” — Government of South Australia

In South Australia, the 2020 commercial quota for all Kangaroo species was 518,600 Kangaroos across the entire expanded harvest zone, representing a 477 percent increase on the number actually harvested in 2018. This quota is less than the 2019 quota of 730,200 and reflects the reduced population estimates as a result of the current dry conditions”. — Government of South Australia

A total of 74,027 Kangaroos were killed for commercial purposes during the first eight months of 2020. This represents 14 percent  of the combined commercial Kangaroo quota for the year. The projected kill in 2020 for all species is now 108,609. This represents 21 percent of the combined quotas.

“The sundry Macropods are not just a fine animal that looks cool on a coat of arms, they are a part of this land. Dtjowdtjba, the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, is not my brother or sister: Dtjowdtjba and I are one. Hurt Dtjowdtjba and you hurt me. I, just because I am human am not superior to Dtjowdtjba, neither is Dtjowdtjba superior to me: we are simply one. Sure I will eat Dtjowdtjba if I am hungry, but only after asking Dtjowdtjba if I may. Sometimes we die and we provide food for the grasses that will feed Dtjowdtjba. This is life. Dtjowdtjba and I are a part of the universe: a part of the web of life. Vital and important to that web as the other.”

In 2019, the commercial Kangaroo kill in South Australia for all species was 99,289. This figure was 13 percent of the approved quota of 752,100 (including Special Land Management Quota). The highest recorded annual quotas achieved are 555,000 for Red Kangaroos (1997), 280,000 for Western Grey Kangaroos (1997), and 103,000 for Euros (1997).

In 2020 the estimated Red Kangaroo population in all commercial zones in South Australia (including the expanded zones as of 1 January 2020) is 1,178,888, a decrease of 24 percent from the previous year total of 1,552,679 and 24 percent lower than the long-term survey data average of 1,545,893 (1999–2019 data from model estimates). The estimated population of the Western Grey Kangaroo in all commercial zones (including the expansions to Mallee and Yorke Mid North sub-regions but excluding Southern Agricultural region) is 846,127, a 22 percent decrease from the 2019 population estimate of 1,085,193 and 28 percent below the long-term average of 1,180,479 (1999–2019 data from model estimates). The population in the new Southern Agricultural zone is estimated at 208,811, a decrease of 24 percent from the 2019 population estimate of 276,183.

The estimated population for the Euro in all commercial zones is 517,108, a decrease of 9 per cent from the 2019 estimate of 570,021 and 8 percent above long-term average of 479,078 (1999–2019).  For the Eastern Grey Kangaroo surveys show a large drop in population compared to the 2019 estimate at 61,826 Kangaroos. For the Kangaroo Island (Sooty) Western Grey Kangaroo aerial surveys found that Kangaroos were spread across the island, although fewer were present in the burnt areas. Compared to the 2019, the 2020 survey indicates a 34 percent reduction in the Sooty Kangaroo population on Kangaroo Island. For the Tammar Wallaby (Kangaroo Island sub species) the survey gives a population estimate showing a reduction in population of approximately 40 percent post fire.

Conclusion: South Australia has an appalling record of native species endangerment and extinctions, the driest state on the continent might not be the brightest. Things need to change.

NOTE: Adding new species to the commercial trade in wildlife is a very clear sign that there are no longer enough of the main commercially targeted species to make commercial activities properly viable.


Population surveys for Kangaroos in Queensland commenced in 1980, these were originally conducted by the CSIRO. Since 1991 the Queensland Government has conducted these surveys by helicopter. Population estimates are calculated by extrapolating the mean monitor block densities within population estimate regions to a larger area in the commercial shooting zones of 895,824km² for Eastern Grey Kangaroos, 1,006,876 km² for Red Kangaroos and 766,613 km² for Wallaroos.

Because of the remoteness of some regions in Queensland Kangaroos have been commercially killed for skins only in some regions. In Queensland, the majority of Kangaroo skins utilised for leather and fur products are sourced from meat processors. According to the Queensland Government, in 2020 there were no Kangaroos killed commercially for their skins only.

“Inna the Wallaroo: though if Inna becomes extinct, so will the people of that totem.”

Queensland is divided into the following commercial shooting zones (Kangaroos): Central East / Central North / Central South / Eastern / Western / non-commercial shooting (the latter part of SEQ and part of Cape York (the Western zone extends along the Gulf of Carpentaria Coast to just south of Pormpuraaw). Commercial quotas in Queensland are set between 10 and 20 percent of the estimated population for each species killed for commercial purposes. The species in Queensland are the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, the Red Kangaroo and the Wallaroo.

“The maximum proportions used for each species are 15 percent of populations for Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Wallaroos and 20 percent of the population for Red Kangaroos. These maximum proportions are only applied to populations within the central harvest zone where survey effort is greatest and hence confidence limits for population estimates are within acceptable limits”. — Queensland Government

The most recent population survey which sets the quotas for 2021, put the population of Queensland’s commercially killed Kangaroos at — for the Red Kangaroo 4,135,700 (quota 673,050 – 16.3 percent) – no quota for Central South; for the Eastern Grey Kangaroo 10,043,400 (quota 1,087,450 – 10.8 percent) – no quotas for Central South and Central North and for the Wallaroo 2,484,750 (quota 220,650 – 8.9 percent) – no quota Central North, even though the trigger point to stop commercial shooting (population decline) has been reached in Central South there is still a quota of 8,100 Wallaroos in this zone.

Quotas are now never reached, which is an indication of exaggerated population estimates. In 2019, across Queensland, Kangaroos killed for commercial purposes were just 24 percent of the quota for that year, in 2018 it was 26 percent. Dealer returns for 2019 (entered up to 10 February 2020) indicate there were 758,362 Macropods killed commercially in Queensland, just 26 percent of the overall combined quota. Of the animals killed for commercial purposes, there were 216,437 Red Kangaroos, 483,385 Eastern Grey Kangaroos and 58,540 Wallaroos exterminated (excluding joeys). Quotas for individual species in each commercial shooting zone were not exceeded in 2019. The maximum commercial take, as a percentage of the approved quotas, was 31.9 percent for Eastern Grey Kangaroos and 27.3 percent for Wallaroos, both in the Central Zone.

In 2020 (from 1 January) shooting in the vast Central Zone was suspended for the Wallaroo and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo, including the shires of McKinlay, Flinders, Murweh, Paroo, Quilpie, Richmond, Winton, Longreach, Barcoo, Blackall-Tambo, Bulloo and Barcaldine. This is a vast area that runs from the Mckinlay Shire boundary in the north to the NSW border in the south and east to Morven. This ban was because of the devastation of Kangaroo populations in this zone.

By the end of 2020, the highest number of tags sold as a proportion of quota was 100 per cent for Wallaroos in the Central Zone, the actual killed for this species, in this zone was 77.9 percent of the available quota. The data from dealer returns, entered up to 5 February 2021, shows that there were 514,144 Kangaroos killed commercially and sold, representing 18.2 percent of the overall quota, the majority of the killing traditionally occurring in the Central Zone. Of the 514,144 Kangaroos killed for commercial purposes in 2020, there were 200,779 Red Kangaroos, 263,409 Eastern Grey Kangaroos and 49,956 Wallaroos killed for commercial gain.

“According to figures supplied to the Commonwealth Government Department of Environment and Energy, Queensland populations fall from a high of 32,803,900 in 2013 to 20,999,900 in 2018”. The total population of the three commercially targeted species in 2021 is estimated to be 16,663,850.

Conclusion: In the Central South and Central North shooting zones, Kangaroo populations have been significantly depleted by a combination of exaggerated populations estimates, inflated quotas, intensive killing and climate change impacts. It also looks as if killing pressure on the Wallaroo has increased significantly because of the drastic decline of other commercially targeted species. This puts significant pressure on Kangaroo populations in other commercial shooting zones in the state. In 2020, 18 percent of the quota was filled, in 2019, 24 percent and in 2018 it was 26 percent. The year on year declines should tell us a lot and the commercial Kangaroo industry will kill every animal it can find to maintain the viability of the industry. Evidence suggests that chiller boxes are being moved from Queensland to Victoria.


No commercial activity in relation to Kangaroos at this time, which would likely be culturally unacceptable. We spend a lot of time in the Northern Territory and see very few Kangaroos. The Northern Territory makes the point that the financial outcomes of creating a commercial trade in Kangaroos, Red Kangaroos and Euros, given very low population densities, would be unacceptable. Densities much higher than five Kangaroos per square kilometer are required to sustain a commercial industry over the majority of a shooting zone.


Two species of Kangaroo are currently killed for commercial gain in Western Australia, the Red Kangaroo and the Western Grey Kangaroo. In 2021, the quota for the Red Kangaroo is set at 17 percent of the annual population estimate, for the Western Grey Kangaroo the quota is set at 15 percent. Since 2003 the number of Kangaroos killed commercially shows significant decline. There was no commercial harvest of Euros from 2003–06 and from 2010–15. There is no current plan that allows shooting of Euros for commercial purposes, however Euros are shot for non-commercial purposes on farmland or leasehold land used for grazing.

Within the commercial shooting zones in Western Australia, the 2019 population estimate for these species was 3,090,605 — reducing to a population estimate of 2,412,050 in 2020. The quotas accordingly reducing from 489,130 in 2019 to 381,880 in 2020. In 2020, the commercial trade in Red Kangaroos was 13.8 percent of quota and 26.1 percent for Western Grey Kangaroos.

Conclusion: Serial declines in Kangaroo populations. I have serious concerns for the Red Kangaroo and Euro, things are not looking too bright for the Western Grey Kangaroo either.


There are five remaining species in the Kangaroo family in Tasmania, the Forester Kangaroo, Bennett’s Wallaby, Pademelon, Eastern Bettong and the Long-nosed Potoroo​. No commercial activity is evident since 1999, but mass killing is evident, including killing activity because of claims of exploding populations, which are of course, yet again, nonesense. Around 7,500 Tasmanians can hold a Wallaby licence in any one year with no limits to the numbers killed, that is an estimated 900,000 to 1,000,000 Pademelons and Bennett’s Wallabies being killed each year. Estimates are that around 2,000,000 native animals are killed annually by primary industry in Tasmania alone.

The 1999 commercial trade in Wallabies totalled 21,000 animals (Pademelons and Bennett’s Wallabies), down from 300,000 in 1984.


The following extract is taken from a post mortem examination conducted by the eminent wildlife carer, veterinary surgeon, doctor of human medicine and anaesthetist, Dr Howard Ralph. The animal in question was a young male Eastern Grey Kangaroo. The animal was killed (mid-2012) during an ACT Government sponsored killing event of Kangaroos in the capital’s nature reserves. (Image supplied)

I will jump straight to the interpretation. The first wound to the face was consistent with a gunshot from above, the bullet entering at the dorsal part of the right hand side and exiting at the level of the mandible and causing massive damage to the bone and teeth. That was likely to be the primary wound of a series of three wounds and it is not likely to have been fatal.

The second wound, to the skull and brain, caused extensive trauma / damage to both structures and is consistent with blunt trauma caused by a blow with a heavy object. Considering the bleeding along the dorsum of the neck and the series of three assaults on this Kangaroo, this trauma to the head was unlikely to have caused immediate death.

The third wound is consistent with a penetrating knife wound to the neck. The skin, muscle, vessels and trachea were divided in such a manner as to be also consistent with a deep knife injury. The presence of blood aspirated into the trachea, bronchi and lung is consistent with aspiration before death.

The above series of lesions indicates that the Kangaroo was first shot, then bludgeoned on the head and then stabbed in the neck. The evidence is consistent with the Kangaroo being alive until finally being exsanguinated and asphyxiated by a laceration to the throat . The Kangaroo very likely suffered severe pain and distress for some time during this progressive attack, until the fatal exsanguination and asphyxiation.


Australia’s commercial trade in wildlife and specifically in relation to Kangaroos is recognised internationally as the most cruel and extensive exploitation of land-based mammals on Earth.

An update to the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) was released on Wednesday 18 November 2020. The protections for Kangaroos were further weakened by this update.

The purpose of these codes of practice in relation to Kangaroos in Australia are twofold:

1. To legitimise extreme acts of cruelty which would otherwise be illegal by negating animal cruelty legislation; and

2. To create the impression for consumers, particularly overseas consumers, that Australia’s trade in wildlife, in this case members of the Kangaroo family, is humane and is closely managed for compliance, nothing could be further from the truth.

While we do not agree with the mass slaughter of Kangaroos, we spent several days preparing a submission for AgriFutures on behalf of the AWPC to attempt to moderate the extreme cruelty and evident dishonesty. AgriFutures, the organisation responsible for the update of the national code (Federal Government funded) took precisely no account of what we had suggested, our submission was completely ignored, never acknowledged and we were not informed of the publication of the new code — so a long established Australian charity and its members were treated with complete contempt by the individuals preparing the update. I have personally prepared a large number of submissions and this excuse for a consultation was the worst I have seen anywhere.

In Victoria, commercial Kangaroo shooters are licensed under the Conditions of Authorisation under section 28A of the Wildlife Act 1975, to hunt, take, destroy, possess, dispose of and sell Eastern Grey Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos in accordance with the approved Victorian Kangaroo Harvest Management Plan 2021–2023. These conditions explicitly state that (clause 7) Kangaroos with obvious dependent young must not be shot. Precisely the opposite has occurred and females with dependant young are killed each and every night across the state in large numbers. Yet not a single prosecution has occurred in relation to this matter. So suggesting there is any kind of compliance regime is incorrect.

Quotes in the story are from Kangaroos: Myths and Realities, published by AWPC, 2005, from a contribution by author Kakkib li’Dthia Warrawee’a entitled The Kangaroo betrayed.

More imagery at Going going gone | Creative Cowboy Films

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AWPC President’s Report for 2020: Wildlife must come first


AS I WRITE this, I have just finished a radio interview with John Nicolson, a Scottish journalist, broadcaster and Scottish National Party politician on London Radio. The discussion this time was about what is being done to Australian wildlife in Victoria by the very government that should be protecting it. There is great concern around the world about what is happening to Australia’s wildlife in Victoria, where things under the current Labor Government are terrible, the same concern exists for all other states and territories around the country.

The aggressive actions by all Australian Governments in enabling the large scale killing of wildlife is occurring despite the catastrophic fires of last summer, despite other climate change impacts and despite all we hear about global extinctions. Surrounding these government activities are significant expenditures to market the acceptability of the killing, which also attempts to demean the Australian species being targeted. Kangaroos are of course in the frontline of the mindless propaganda.

ABOVE: Kangaroo slaughter. Credit Craig Thomson. Source AWPC archives.

I am firstly concerned by the extreme acts of cruelty being perpetrated on Australian wildlife; secondly, I am concerned about what is occurring to Australian species and the continual endangerment of these animals, as more and more Australian species edge towards the brink. There is a growing and third concern, which is the matter of human rights. In this regard I am currently producing a series of films ‘Kangaroo testimonies’ which describe the suffering of land owners as their wildlife populations are butchered around them. These stories are heartbreaking, and how governments can inflict this cruelty on their citizens is beyond any understanding, certainly mine.

At the political level, Australian wildlife has few friends. The Liberal and National Parties remain notorious for their conduct in this area. Labor too, in Victoria, when it comes to wildlife, the current Labor Government outguns the Liberal Nationals by a very long way. In the ACT, the Kangaroo-killer-in-chief has long been a Green, that portfolio is now under a Labor. Let us hope the Greens in the ACT begin to change their spots. We will be working on it. What has occurred in South Australia in the last few years is a disgrace and all the others are just as bad.

In Queensland, a Labor government has handed out macropod extermination licenses to graziers and is enabling the cluster fencing disaster that kills all wildlife, erected with taxpayer money over the past five years. In NSW, a Liberal National government since 2019, has had a de-facto open season on Kangaroos to “help the graziers combat drought” the killing has not abated following the fires. In NSW and Victoria, governments are using 1080 poison in state reserves and parks.

Regarding the use of 1080 in Victoria, note the following:

My question on notice via Green’s Ellen Sandell — Victorian Parliament.

In Victoria has any of the funding allocated from the Government’s January 2020 $17.5 million wildlife and biodiversity rescue package been used for lethal control of pest species, including use of aerial drops of 1080?

(Note Kangaroo meat is used extensively in Australia as a substrate for aerial and other baiting — the use of 1080 poison in aerial drops is banned in most countries around the world because of cruelty reasons and its indiscriminate impact on numerous species.)

The substrate for aerially deployed 1080 baits in Victoria does not contain kangaroo. All aerial bait lines and bait drops are mapped with tree canopy cover considered in developing bait lines. Bait drops are deployed accurately using aircraft navigation, specialised equipment and GPS technology based on heights and airspeed according to environmental conditions. Bait lodgement in the canopy of trees is not a concern.

The impact of pest animals in fire-impacted areas can greatly affect the survival of native plants and animals and the recovery of threatened species and their habitat. Intensified and sustained control of pest animals has been funded as a priority immediate action under the Biodiversity Bushfire Relief and Early Recovery (BBRER) program.

A range of integrated control techniques will be used, including aerial and ground shooting, trapping and ground baiting. Baits used as part of the ground baiting will be buried at an appropriate depth to reduce the risk of non-target impact. No aerial baiting will be funded under the BBRER program. The use of alternatives to 1080 baits, such as PAPP (para-aminopropiophenne) based products, will be trialled in BBRER funded projects. PAPP is a humane, fast-acting toxin.

Note: 1080 baits are and have been used extensively in Victoria and other programs continue.

To be frank, what I have been fed by governments, as they try to make excuses about their behaviour, is a feeble set of excuses and more generally a pack of nonsense. Given the vast loss of wildlife during 2020 from climate change events, the government-enabled killing continues unabated. I have very large problems with what I am seeing regarding standards of governance from some of these governments, the extreme and prejudicial conduct and standards of honesty, and even so under FOI (Freedom of Information). The question is why is this occurring and why do politicians see a benefit to themselves in promoting the mass killing of Australian wildlife? So we are left with the AJP (Animal Justice Party), who now have leverage in the NSW and Victorian Parliaments. We need to give them every assistance. The Greens need to look carefully at what they are doing when it comes to the protection of Australian species.

I am very pleased that my colleague Chris Lehmann is now responsible, on behalf of the AWPC, for managing our Kangaroo response in Australia and internationally.

As in many exploitative industries, unsustainable ‘harvesting’ has led to ‘prey switching’ to new species which is now occurring along with the expansion of ‘operational areas’, where the industry is now shooting kangaroos, South Australia and Victoria are among recent examples. This is occurring as a number of kangaroo shooting zones are closed in other states because of the dramatic decline in kangaroo populations. While we were all in lockdown, the South Australian Government informed me that kangaroo killing would be allowed to continue because it was an essential service. This is the level of stupidity we now live under.

A matter of contempt

I will use Victoria as an example here because something very bad happened on Christmas Eve, which showed contempt for wildlife carers and other regional Victorians living peacefully with their wildlife, in often, once government encouraged, conservation and Land for Wildlife Properties.

On Christmas Eve 2020 I started to receive messages that the Victorian Government had emailed kangaroo shooters and those engaged in the commercial trade in wildlife informing them of the following changes in their ability to trade commercially in Australian wildlife (prior to any public announcement of the changes and prior to the release of kangaroo survey data, nor did they inform any wildlife protection organisations or carers):

  • The commercial quota of Kangaroos in Victoria would be lifted from 57,000 animals to 90,000 animals in 2021 (it looks like they managed to find 40,000 Kangaroos for commercial trade in 2019);
  • That Kangaroo meat in Victoria would now be approved for human consumption and including international export (this in the middle of a zoonotic caused global pandemic); and
  • Interstate sales from Victoria of commercially killed Kangaroos would be approved from 2021.

Needless to say this sent a wave of fear and anxiety — emotions already high — across many residents in regional Victoria who care for their wildlife, run wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centres and have wildlife properties etc. And that translated into a nightmare for us because of the level of concern being direct at us, so our Christmas period was turned on its head in the awful and terrible nature of what was going on. The timing of this, even if it was predictable given the prejudicial standards I describe, was immensely cruel.

Since that time the Victorian Government has not responded to any questions on the matter, this suggests there was some ‘freelancing of information to mates’ prior to any formal government announcements. The standards of governance and duty-of-care relating to this matter are among the most egregious I have seen and full of contempt for those who care about wildlife, particularly so, those individuals living in regional areas who will find themselves in the frontline of the slaughter.

Australian mammal and bird species are in the frontline of commercial hunting activities, recreational hunting and damage mitigation permits. Like all other classes of life, and perhaps particularly so in Australia, they are also in the frontline of climate change. So duck shooting seasons are now being announced, South Australia is (as usual) in the frontline of these announcements, this year removing two duck species from the slaughter of birdlife, these are the Australasian Blue-winged Shoveler and Pink-eared Duck. Neither should we forget the fate of Quail and all the other birdlife caught up in the slaughter.

Submissions to inquiries

We have made a series of submissions to governments and their inquiries and their funded agencies, these include the new code for kangaroo killing — which was not acknowledged, our recommendations completely ignored, nor were we informed of its publication. So days of work wasted. So rude and prejudicial behaviour once again by people whose salaries we are paying for. I will follow this up directly with the individuals involved.

We have made a joint submission with the Animal Protectors Alliance to the Commonwealth Government’s EPBC Review. I quote,

“the complete failure of the EPBC Act, as the only Commonwealth environmental legislation to protect Australia’s environment and to conserve its biodiversity, has resulted in the deaths of billions of individual animals (including invertebrates) and the destruction of thousands of ecosystems. If Australia’s ongoing war against its natural environment is not checked by some form of strong national regulation, the devastation will ultimately extend from natural systems and species to both humans and all the other animals that are (theoretically) in human care.”

While the EPBC report itself was sensible, the subsequent conduct from the Commonwealth Government and its Environment Minister is likely to have the opposite outcome.

Victoria has had two inquiries of direct interest to the AWPC during the year, these were the Loss of biodiversity inquiry and the Review of the animal cruelty POCTA Act. Submission were made to both inquiries and I am awaiting a response. Previous to the submissions I prepared a briefing document covering the issues relating to biodiversity loss for the Greens in Melbourne.

A top-line recommendation in relation to the POCTA Act review was:

“There can only be one recommendation in relation to the matters expressed in this document, that is to halt the persecution of and the extreme cruelty exacted on Kangaroo species (and Wallaby species) in Victoria with a proper and independent investigation of what has occurred and why it has occurred.”

Red Kangaroo

Working with the AJP, in late 2019, we managed to save the remaining Red Kangaroo population in Victoria from the petfood trade. We were persistent in this matter and eventually succeeded. Contempt is such, however, that the Victorian Government will continue to issue ATCW (Authority to Control Wildlife) permits until the species is all but gone. Nothing however can be taken as fixed in this current environment, so we must stay vigilant.

Climate change

The situation regarding action to slow climate change in Australia continues to be a poor one. The situation looks something like this: Australia’s target of a 26 percent reduction of 2005 GHG (Green House Gas) emission levels by 2030 is currently on track for only a genuine 7 percent reduction (that is, without previous target carry-over “credits” being considered) in 2030. Poor policies mean that there continues to be limited action in transport, existing buildings, industrial processes, wastes and agriculture National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) sectors. The Climate Change Performance Index, used by Climate Change Tracker, found that the best performing countries are Sweden, Denmark and Morocco, and the worst performing are Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the United States. New Zealand was ranked 34 and Australia 53 of the 58 countries assessed. If Australian fossil fuel exports are embedded into emissions it is likely that Australia’s global share of emissions is somewhere in the region of 3.3 percent.

Among the serious problems impacting biodiversity:

“Changes to the Eastern Australian Current appear to have contributed to a stronger than usual upwelling and more dramatic changes in temperature. The East Australia Current now runs further south than it used to, and is more intense. The current has been affected by climate change, and projections show that the oceans in south-eastern Australia will have the greatest increases in sea temperature in our region. This may cause further changes to the current, resulting in more frequent and intense upwellings in the future”.  — CES

The biggest of bungles

Among the most egregious outcomes for wildlife, the most bungled wildlife rescue of all, was the Victorian Government’s response to wildlife rescue in the state. The numbers I would like you to think about are these:

Total estimated funding for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation in Australia following catastrophic fires, local international and all government sources $500,000,000.

3,000,000,000 animals lost and 270 rescued in Victoria from public lands, that is a shocker in anyone’s language.

General matters

I would like to thank the AWPC committee for all its hard work in 2020 and to our young volunteers. A special thank you to all volunteers including Carmen for her work on administrative matters; Sue and Maria, respectively for their design and editorial management of the AWPC website and social media platforms. Also to acknowledge all the work of the committee team, the front office and the communications work that was pivotal in 2020 — all were focused on wildlife work in practice and execution, and that as a team effort they complimented the on-ground and personal outreach work that Chris and I had completed.

All of it very time consuming work, particularly given the circumstances I describe here. This has meant that Chris and I could concentrate on matters directly relating to wildlife and its protection.

The tasks that lie ahead of us for 2021 include:

  • A new ‘business’ plan — I would probably describe this as a strategic plan as we properly document the most effective things that the AWPC can do to assist wildlife in the next five-year period (this work is being supervised by Ian Higgins from the University of Technology Sydney as part of their mentor program);
  • A new website for better communications, continued social media development, including increasing international engagement;
  • An online archive of AWPC resources — which document a valuable history of wildlife and the efforts to protect it; and
  • To develop and publish information about wildlife and what is happening to it, including a new book authored by Maria Taylor, Injustice: hidden in plain sight, the war on Australian nature, and film from Peter Hylands, capturing some of the events I discuss here.

Peter Hylands, AWPC President
18 January 2021

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Victorian government claims impossible kangaroo numbers, encourages people to eat national emblem


Today, 28 January 2021, the Victorian Government publicly announced the details of its amplification of its commercial trade in wildlife activities which impacts the remaining Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroo populations in Victoria — information it had previously leaked to shooters on Christmas Eve 2020.

The Kangaroo’s problem is that they are something for nothing

So today we had the usual spin — ‘Minister for Agriculture Mary-Anne Thomas today announced the 2021 quota allocation for the Kangaroo Harvesting Program — which has risen due to a notable increase in the estimated statewide Kangaroo population in the last three years’.

As claimed by this Minister, it is entirely impossible that ‘there has been a notable increase in the estimated statewide kangaroo population’. The claim from the government is that ‘The 2020 survey estimates the current kangaroo population at almost 2 million across Victoria — up almost 40 percent compared to 2018. To reduce waste and boost economic opportunities, the Labor Government will allow the extra meat to be made available for human consumption — not just for pet food as is currently the case — and look for opportunities to export the skins’.

I won’t quote anymore of this nonsense, which is impart also contradictory, as you will have heard it all before. Many of the claims are completely false.

Why has there been such a significant rise in Kangaroo populations in Victoria since 2018?

The answer is there has not been an increase, the opposite has occurred. There has been a significant decline in the populations of the two species being targeted in Victoria. This is because of:

• Intensive shooting of these animals in Victoria since 2014 when the commercial trade commenced in trial form, this also takes out the next generation of Kangaroos as the joeys are also killed;

• Catastrophic climate conditions including fires which are likely to have accounted for 200,000 (Wallabies not included in this number) Kangaroos in Victoria during last summer’s fires;

• Vastly overstated Kangaroo populations from previous surveys. The way the maths is likely to work here is that the smaller the Kangaroo populations when the mass killing commences, the faster the animal vanishes, populations of these animals have been relatively small in Victoria when compared to other places; and

• Impossible reproductive rates are being claimed.

So what is actually happening is that, as populations decline, this is happening quickly, the population estimates and associated quotas go up, so the population declines even faster.

So what the Victorian Government has done is trapped itself in its own spin and falsehoods.

The way this works is that they have now encouraged shooters (currently 80 or so in Victoria) to shoot a very small number of animals, given what is actually required to make this viable for so many people. So they have no choice but to shift up the value chain (if you can call it that) by introducing human consumption, then boosting population numbers to keep the quotas up.

The Minister responsible for this shambles, they should have stopped it in its tracks, needs to explain how and why the population grew by a staggering amount given what I have said previously. So it looks very much as if they changed their methodology yet again to boost the numbers. So once again the only population explosion is on a spreadsheet on someone’s laptop in a government office.

We did not think they would have had the nerve to push the number up so high — we clearly underestimated their capacity for wrong doing. We have asked for the survey and quota report(s) for 2021 but not had a response so far.

As we have said a thousand times, there is a great deal of propaganda here, and a lot of myths, the one that needs busting today, is the claim that the increase quotas also reduces the number of Kangaroos competing with livestock. A few points here:

• The grass this year in many places is plentiful — often waist high, so there is more than enough for everyone and what remains looks very much like a fire hazard;

• Some of the introduced plants and grasses are toxic for Kangaroos and will make them extremely ill or even kill them; and

• The Victorian Kangaroo surveys will show that there are very few Kangaroos associated with farmland. Many of the remaining Kangaroo populations will be on public land, National and State Parks, reserves and so on, or on private properties where the owners have protected the wildlife they have chosen to live with, as we did for so many years before our conservation property in Victoria was destroyed.

There is also a major problem looming for wildlife shelters and those rehabilitating wildlife, these properties typically have a great deal of wildlife, including Kangaroos, associated with them.

Although I have raised, and now in some detail, the human rights abuses that have and are now more likely to occur in Victoria given what is being done here, which engulf those individuals who choose to live peacefully in regional Victoria along with their wildlife, the senior politicians within the Victorian Government have chosen to entirely ignore the high risk of abuse and endangerment. And we are talking about high-powered rifles being used close to houses, not the shotguns used so commonly to kill birdlife on Victoria’s Ramsar sites.

State of play: Wildlife in Victoria


Amid claims from the Victorian Government that various native species are overabundant, and extraordinarily these claims still continue in various plans being issued by the Victorian Government, despite the vast scale loss of wildlife in the devastating fires.

Here is an updated analysis of some of the Victorian Government’s numbers (publicly available or obtained under FOI) from our President, Peter Hylands, as he describes the real situation for Australian wildlife in the State of Victoria. The question we need to ask is why is so much wildlife dying in Victoria because of the enabling and often promotion of these killing activities by the very government responsible for the welfare of these precious and unique animals?


2020 WAS A very grim year for Victoria’s Australian species. What we can tell you is that Australian wildlife in Victoria is anything but protected. Wildlife in Victoria is also subject to extreme acts of cruelty. Much of this activity is encouraged and enabled by its current government.

“As we managed to get caught in Melbourne’s extensive lockdown and ring of steel which locked up the city for many weeks, I have taken some of that time to investigate the current circumstances for Victoria’s native species. As always, marsupials and birdlife are in the forefront of the abuse. I have created this as a reference document for the reader to use”.

Here are some simple facts for Victoria that tell a very grim story, yet the killing continues and is encouraged by the Victorian Government, and oddly by organisations such as the Country Women’s Association (CWA) as has recently been the case in Central Victoria.

At a time of dire environmental conditions, including vast scale bushfires, the killing of Australia’s wildlife in Victoria has continued at scale. Permits to kill Kangaroos on a very large scale have been issued across Victoria’s regions (including Central Victoria) and populations are declining rapidly region by region, as remaining populations are targeted by commercial and non-commercial shooting activities.

As is the case for the rest of Australia, the Victorian Government Kangaroo population estimates are exaggerated and this means that commercial quotas are most often not met (because the Kangaroos are not there in the numbers stated) and in at least one case in Victoria, and for one species of Kangaroo (it is now coming close to being more than one species), the number of permits being issued and the number of animals covered by these permits is likely to exceed their entire state population for that species. Victoria has been converting its Authority to Control Wildlife (ATCW) Kangaroo permits to commercial permits, a process that commenced in 2014. We can however expect to see a drop off of animals killed in Victoria against commercial quotas as populations dwindle. Australia, including Victoria, is the leading exterminator of mammal species in the world.

“In early March 2020 I was working in the desert country to the west of Alice Springs, a remote place where I often stay. Coming in to see our friends in Hermannsburg I rang the Victorian ecodev number 136 186 to enquire how the latest Kangaroo harvest quotas had been calculated for each Victorian region. I was put through to a staff member in Ballarat and initially told there had been surveys in both 2019 and 2020. I knew this to be incorrect so when I queried the response, I was given a lecture about how terrible these animals are and told that people (like me) living in cities do not understand the issues. Given that I have owned two significant rural properties, one in Central Victoria over many decades and another near the Endeavour River in Far North Queensland and I spend time working in the remotest places in Australia and I know a lot about numbers, these claims seemed pretty outrageous”. — Peter Hylands

Impact of the commercial trade in Kangaroos on killing rates in Victoria

The repugnantly named Kangaroo Harvesting Program (KHP) began in Victoria on 1 October 2019 following the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial (KPFT) which commenced in 2014. If the periods 2009–13 and 2014–18 are compared, the rate of killing roughly tripled from 259,288 to 747,659 animals when those periods are compared. Sadly, having saved the Red Kangaroo from the pet food can in Victoria over concerns with vastly exaggerated population numbers, the high level of animals subject to the non-commercial ATCW permit in 2019 (10,073 animals) can only be described as malicious conduct.

These next numbers required a bit of guess work so may be out by a small margin, but it looks like since 2009, much of it occurring from 2014 on, permits were issued to kill 1,385,339 Kangaroos, of which 555,026 were victims to the commercial trade in wildlife, across three species, that is the Eastern Grey, the Western Grey and the Red Kangaroo (other species were also killed in substantial numbers). If we add another 20 percent to that number for the number of Joeys killed by these activities that adds yet another 277,000 animals to the slaughter since 2009.

“The claims from both politicians and public servants in Victoria that the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial would not increase the rate of Kangaroo killing, and then, once the trial had commenced, claims that significant increases in the killing rate (for example an increase of the killing rate for the Red Kangaroo of 759 times over the 2011 control total) was due to favourable climatic conditions, and hence conditions for breeding resulting in population increases, are simply untrue. This becomes entirely obvious once the increases in kill rates are analysed by region. The very significant increases in kill rates occurred in the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial zones. This is simply disgraceful, particularly given the rates of killing from the period the trial commenced, that it is most probable that populations had started to decline rapidly during 2016.”

— Peter Hylands, 2018

The most Eastern Grey Kangaroos for which permits were issued in the period 01/01/2017 to 31/10/2019 in any shire, were in the Mitchell Shire in Melbourne’s North at 37,920. While this number is a complete disgrace in itself, it is troubling in another sense, in that the greatest level of killing is now associated with regions closer to Melbourne and not traditionally the core Kangaroo killing grounds in those places where the greatest Kangaroo populations once existed.

On inspection of Victorian Government data under FOI we discovered this note attached to the tables as a footnote

NOTE: that the Western Grey Kangaroo figures is considered highly inflated, as the reporting tool only allows harvesters to identify Western Greys which is creating user error – enhancements to the reporting tool will be implemented in 2020.

This NOTE is startling for two reasons – the Kangaroo Pet Food Trial and full commercial market, have combined, now been operating for six years, and DELWP are still not able to know what species are being killed. Secondly this makes a complete mockery of the Kangaroo surveys in Victoria and the population numbers these expensive (to the public purse) activities generate.


“In its extensive and recent Kangaroo surveys the Victorian Government were able to count just 23 Red Kangaroos and 2,607 Grey Kangaroos (both Eastern and Western Greys) in 2017 and in a much more extensive survey in 2018 they counted just 91 Red Kangaroos and 4,707 Grey Kangaroos (again this figure includes both Eastern and Western Grey Kangaroos). We should also not forget that the Victorian Government is spending a great deal of taxpayers money establishing and ‘managing’ (it is a disgrace) this commercial trade in Australia’s wildlife as well as its disastrous persecution of birdlife on Victoria’s dwindling wetlands. There needs to be proper accountability within government for the various scandals that have emerged in the last few years”. — Peter Hylands, 2019

Victorian Government comparisons — Coalition/Labor (2009–18)

  •  In Victoria in the ten-year period 2009–18 inclusive a total of 32,147 ATCWs were issued for Australian species covering 1,513,605 animals.
  •  In Victoria, the total number of animals subject to ATCWs in the period 2016–18 was 2.3 times higher than the number of animals subject to ATCWs 2009–11.
  •  The number of ATCWs (permits) issued in 2016–18 was 1.66 times higher than the number of ATCWs issued in the period 2009–11.
  •  Victoria is also not the place to be if you happen to be a bird, 73 percent of species subject to control in Victoria were bird species with a total of 397,549 birds, of which 182,721 or 45 percent were from a range of parrot species. We also need to remember that ATCWs are not the only way animals in Victoria die, so we can add another 4.5 million dead water birds and Quail (I am being modest in my calculations) in the last ten years to the tally in Victoria because of duck shooting in the state. So all up, that is around 4.9 million birds in the state in the ten year period.
  •  Politics and nature: The Victorian Labor Government was elected in November 2014 and has increased the number of animals killed across a range of mechanisms. The Labor tally in relation to ATCWs in the years 2015–18 totals 16,010 ATCW permits covering 844,625 animals. In the previous four-year period the Liberal–National Coalition Government in Victoria issued 11,146 ATCW permits covering 461,593 animals, 54 percent of the Labor total.

ATCWs issued in 2019 – summary

In 2019 the Victorian Labor Government added a further 3,429 ATCW permits (covering 57 native species) to the list of Australian wildlife to be ‘controlled’ covering 183,586 native animals (remember this excludes wildlife killed by commercial wildlife activities [which are growing], other types of hunting, unprotected species and young etc). The real shockers in 2019, despite a range of circumstances and reasons not to be doing it, are the continued and extensive persecution of flying foxes (in this case the dying and disruption to breeding occurs during scaring events) and the significant number of animals covered by ATCWs for Emus, Wombats, Cockatoos and other Parrot species, Red Kangaroos and Western Grey Kangaroos (despite their likely status).

The poor Eastern Grey Kangaroo heads the list, despite its populations being decimated by commercial activities, at 112,477 animals. Shockingly, 20,837 ATCWs to kill 1,001,965 Eastern Grey Kangaroos have been issued since 2009.

Although still relatively few in terms of the number of permits issued Australian Fur Seals seem to have attracted some attention in the year, with the number of permits being issued almost matching those for the previous decade total for the species. The Australian Raven also took a hammering in the year, as did Black Swans.

ATCWs Victoria 2009-19

“The reasons given for issuing ATCW permits and killing these animals are trite at best and include they eat grass, damage fences, are fouling water and migrating weeds (cattle and other farmed animals do these things far more effectively than native animals can ever do).”  — Peter Hylands, 2020

Below are part of my Questions with Answers from the Victorian Government.

In the listing of ATCWs 2009–2017 what is the split between lethal and non-lethal methods over this period? My research indicates that the department is against moving wildlife, preferring it to be destroyed.  DELWP is unable to provide the split between authorisations for lethal and non-lethal control as our current permit database does not have the function to be able to produce a report on this. A new database is being developed which will address this limitation.

How many ATCW applications have been rejected?  Our current permit database does not have the function to able to produce a report on this. A new database is currently being developed which will address this limitation.

What species are off the list in terms of not requiring an ATCW to destroy them?  Under section 7A of the Wildlife Act, the Minister can recommend to the Governor in Council to declare a species of wildlife unprotected in a specified area. Whilst this means that the unprotected species of wildlife may be controlled without an ATCW, it does not mean that control is not regulated. The unprotection order will specify the period and area to which the Order applies, in what circumstances the species is unprotected, and the conditions that must be met, such as who may control the species and the methods they may use. There are currently unprotection orders in place for Brushtail Possums living in buildings and municipal parks, Dingos on or within a certain distance from private land for the protection of livestock, and Long-billed Corellas, Sulphur-crested Cockatoos and Galahs causing damage to property.

Why has the annual rate of animals subject to ATCWs risen so sharply?  Wildlife population numbers fluctuate as availability of food and water changes in response to variations in temperature and rainfall. This means that the number of ATCWs sought by landholders also fluctuates year by year. For example, if there are dry conditions then landholders are more likely to seek an ATCW to reduce the competition between wildlife and their stock for feed.

In Victoria has any of the funding allocated from the Government’s January 2020 $17.5 million wildlife and biodiversity rescue package been used for lethal control of pest species, including use of aerial drops of 1080? (note Kangaroo meat is used extensively in Australia as a substrate for aerial and other baiting – the use of 1080 poison in aerial drops is banned in most countries around the world because of cruelty reasons and its indiscriminate impact on numerous species).  The substrate for aerially deployed 1080 baits in Victoria does not contain kangaroo. All aerial bait lines and bait drops are mapped with tree canopy cover considered in developing bait lines. Bait drops are deployed accurately using aircraft navigation, specialised equipment and GPS technology based on heights and airspeed according to environmental conditions. Bait lodgement in the canopy of trees is not a concern. The impact of pest animals in fire-impacted areas can greatly affect the survival of native plants and animals and the recovery of threatened species and their habitat. Intensified and sustained control of pest animals has been funded as a priority immediate action under the Biodiversity Bushfire Relief and Early Recovery (BBRER) program.  A range of integrated control techniques will be used, including aerial and ground shooting, trapping and ground baiting. Baits used as part of the ground baiting will be buried at an appropriate depth to reduce the risk of non-target impact. No aerial baiting will be funded under the BBRER program. The use of alternatives to 1080 baits, such as PAPP (para-aminopropiophenne) based products, will be trialled in BBRER funded projects. PAPP is a humane, fast-acting toxin.

NOTE: 1080 baits are and have been used extensively in Victoria and other programs continue.

Far from the transparency the Victorian Government pretends, I have had great difficulty on extracting information about the government’s own killing activities relating to Australian wildlife on public lands including state and national parks (particularly at the time of the fires). After initially refusing to provide the information the request has been subject to a series of FOI requests and more recently Questions on Notice in the Victorian Parliament.

What lethal control activities involving native wildlife were undertaken by the Government during the period of October 2019 to February 2020, and is data available on the species and quantities controlled?  Records held by the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) show that during the period in question, eight Authorities to Control Wildlife (ATCWs) were issued to government agencies for the lethal control of a range of native wildlife species on public land. ATCWs include strict conditions to ensure wildlife are controlled humanely. ATCWs issued during this period may not have been acted on immediately, as they are typically issued for one year. Records of the species and numbers actually controlled during that period will generally be held by the agency that is responsible for undertaking the wildlife control.  

NOTE: After nearly a year of trying to get the species and numbers data we are still trying.

So which Australian species are on the Victoria Government kill list?

As of 25/02/2020: 88 Australian species in Victoria were subject to control by shooting, a subset of those species (22) were further subject to control by trapping or gassing, again a subset of those on the shoot list were also subject to control by trapping and shooting, a further subset of species (12) were subject to control by destruction of eggs and nests.

“So an ATCW permit holder in Victoria can shoot Australian Fur Seals or Pacific Herons, trap and gas Brown Antechinus or destroy the nest (and presumably the young) of a Black Swan.

All this represents suffering and cruelty at enormous scale. Not one is likely to be supervised”

— Peter Hylands, 2020

The list and number of wildlife to be ‘controlled’ in Victoria are greater than those shown above (which are all on the kill list). It should be noted that within the government tables that provide this information there is an UNSPECIFIED category, which according to the environment department, means ‘scare’. While the UNSPECIFIED category has been applied as an alternative in the government table and to many of the species above, there is little evidence, and the department has not been able to provide any, that ‘scaring’ is an option that is much used for those species listed above (flying foxes and a couple of bird species aside). The bullet is by far the most favoured method of ‘control’.

2019–20 Summer fires

Australia’s greatest fires in living memory, along with the death of billions of animals, had little or no impact on Victorian Governments’ attitudes to wildlife. In most cases the killing continued, commercial native wildlife activity was halted for a few days upon request but secretly reinstated, literally within days of the ban.

The duck shooting season, albeit modified, was held in 2020. Bird killing activities, including use of ATCWs and hunting accounted for around five million birds in the last decade or so. The Victorian Government continues its grievous assault on Australia’s birdlife despite a near 90 percent fall in waterbird populations over the last four decades. The commercial trade in Kangaroos in Victoria has commenced in most regions so badly impacted by fire just a few months ago. The justification for this most recent crime — a desktop study by a Victorian Government agency.

“The 2011 and 2012 Duck and Quail seasons in Victoria accounting for an eye watering 1,917,137 bird deaths, many of these deaths occurring on Ramsar sites (signposted game reserves in Victoria NOT Ramsar sites). 2011–12 season estimates from GMA converted calendar year higher estimates from the two-monthly surveys.” — Peter Hylands, 2020

All signs are that the 2021 waterbird shooting season will commence in March, amid of course claims of exploding bird populations. There is only one way to put this — it is, and will be, a lie.

After a vast amount was donated for the rescue and rehabilitation of native wildlife in Victoria and elsewhere and significant government funds were allocated to help in the task the Victorian Government and its environment department rescues just 270 animals from public lands in Victoria (including state and national parks) blocking the rescue efforts of specialists and volunteers. 75 percent of those animals rescued from public lands were Koalas, an act of window dressing at best.

Despite the fires, the pandemic, the suffering and other climate change impacts, the Victorian Government continues to promote and enable its wildlife killing schemes. The double standards applied are evident given the difficulty in finding out critical information if you are trying to help animals, when compared to the ease for, and service provided to those doing or requesting the killing, here is just one example from the Victorian Government’s website:

Find harvesters to manage kangaroo populations on your property. This takes about 3 minutes. After you’ve given us this info, we will email you a list of authorised harvesters with quotas available for your zone. It’s then up to you to make direct contact with one or more to organise a time and date for harvest. There’s no charge for this service.

Perversely, we are charged for the information we request in trying to help animals, just as we did successfully for the Red Kangaroo in Victoria when it was saved from the petfood can and commercial exploitation. This was achieved by analysing and describing the considerable shortcomings in the government data on which the decisions are made.

Historical note

“So when Australian species have made that journey to the brink, many have gone over the edge, they become endangered, and then perhaps, if they are lucky, some attention and belated compassion is directed towards them. By then it is really too late.” Peter Hylands 2020

The Commercial trade in Kangaroos was banned by the Victorian Government after a trial in the early 1980s. These were the species on the commercial list at that time:

  1. Red-necked Wallaby, Macropus rufogriseus
  2. Black Wallaby or Swamp Wallaby Wallabia bicolor
  3. Western Grey Kangaroo, Macropus fuliginosus
  4. Eastern Grey Kangaroo, Macropus giganteus 
  5. Red Kangaroo, Macropus rufus.

For all species combined, the quota in 1982 was 33,000 animals.

A note on climate change in Australia

Australia’s target of a 26 percent reduction of 2005 Green House Gas (GHG) emission levels by 2030 is currently on track for only a genuine 7 percent reduction (that is, without previous target carry-over “credits” being considered) in 2030. Poor policies mean that there continues to be limited action in transport, existing buildings, industrial processes, wastes and agriculture National Greenhouse Gas Inventory (NGGI) sectors. The Climate Change Performance Index, used by Climate Change Tracker, found that the best performing countries are Sweden, Denmark and Morocco, and the worst performing are Taiwan, Saudi Arabia and the US. New Zealand was ranked 34 and Australia 53 of the 58 countries assessed. If Australian fossil fuel exports are embedded into emissions it is likely that Australia’s global share of emissions is somewhere in the region of 3.3 percent. Note: Latest GHG reduction figure for Australia provided by Graham Armstrong, Saturn Corporate Resources.

The Anthropogenic

So how did Victoria get to this place? We all know that COVID has exposed structural weaknesses in society, in the case of Victoria the spread of the virus in a potentially devastating second wave for all of Australia, described that process very clearly. The lack of accountability in relation to wildlife matters is also very evident, with ‘responsibility’ shared between various Victorian Government  departments and agencies and Ministers (clearly not an accident), which in the end means that no one is responsible for the cruelty and killing. As these departments grow, so does the destructive activity, as does the elaborate disinformation and justifications, including the rise of a kind of pseudo-science (at tax payers expense) designed specifically to justify every aspect of the behaviour.

I have asked Victoria’s Environment Minister what drives the killing of wildlife and the growing number of animals being targeted? Among the many questions not answered, this is just one. I will end by saying I have tried to set up a meeting with a Labor Party Environment Minister for six years without success (and I am currently the President of a long established and distinguished Australian wildlife organisation). The purpose of the meeting is to go through the issues and discuss the numbers of native animals being killed by the enabling practices of the Victorian Government. Clearly the public service in Victoria are very keen to keep Ministers away from people who deliver a different message to the one being peddled and conducted by the internal mechanisms of government. This is a dangerous road, in the case of COVID it has also proved dangerous for the Minister and public servants associated with the matter.

Peter Hylands, President AWPC
16 November 2020

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An update on Australia’s treatment of Kangaroos and Wallabies state-by-state

Dateline: August 2020.

I THOUGHT THAT in this message to you I would attempt to pick out a few of the numerous situations for wildlife across the continent that I am extremely concerned about, this time focusing on Kangaroos and Wallabies. Sadly these provide a pattern for the behaviour and conduct of governments in Australia that extend to other species as well.

ABOVE: There is some good news — Shai Ager and her colleagues (The Agile Project) are relocating Agile Wallabies in North Queensland. See more at end of article. (Image used with permission.)

The very difficult situation faced by Australia’s wildlife makes life very difficult for people as well. I want to thank everyone involved, the AWPC committee, its members and all the other groups, in Australia and overseas, that are working so hard to try to change the attitudes and behaviours that lead to so much cruelty towards, and endangerment of these very precious Australian species.

Frustratingly at this time I am in lockdown in inner Melbourne and that makes dealing with these issues many times more difficult than it would normally be. We prefer to be out there with the animals rather than shut away in the city.

I made the following point to Lily D’Ambrosio, Victoria’s Minster for the Environment, just this morning:

“We should all be very clear that COVID is not a cover for either ignoring the current circumstances (which are dire), or increasing attacks on, biodiversity and biomes in this state”.

Further to lockdown, face masks and wildlife

I want to make the following points about this, during the various lockdowns (Melbourne begins a night time curfew as of this evening) we have done what was asked of us, which goes without saying, and continued to work on our projects at home and online. The food has been delivered and we exist in relative safety.

We are where we are now because many in the community chose to ignore their responsibilities and duty-of-care to others. The breaches of restrictions in the place we live were evident as parties continued and social distancing protocols were ignored. What this has done is to place many of us in very great danger; the front line workers, particularly those in the health care sector, various government employees having to deal with this situation, essential retail staff and the list goes on. We thank them all. We are still much better off than many of our friends across the world, where food is scarce and the opportunity to isolate does not exist.

It is extremely important that everyone wears a face mask to reduce the risk of spreading the COVID-19 virus, the international data on the subject tells a very compelling story. Around the world masks are now everywhere. Many of these masks are single-use and we now see them washing up on the beach and discarded in the streets.

Japan, where mask use is commonplace, particularly when people are using public transport or shopping, produces 4 billion disposable face masks each year, most are used in Japan. So multiply that around the world and we are talking vast numbers of face masks being discarded each and every day. Every single mask, unless disposed of with care, is a deadly hazard for wildlife, both on land or in the sea.

kangaroo-shoes-aug2020Kangaroos are not shoes

In California, where the virus also rages, our friends from the Centre for a Humane Economy release a new study as part of its Kangaroosarenotshoes campaign, which is now gaining attention around the world.

“We now learn the true death and displacement toll as a result of Australia’s catastrophic wildfires may be three billion animals, including uncounted kangaroos,” said Wayne Pacelle, president of the Center for a Humane Economy. “It’s now being called ‘one of the worst wildlife disasters in modern history’. Despite this crisis, commercial shooters are still massacring kangaroos, and their skins are still being sold in California despite a law that makes it a crime to trade in their parts.”  

“Australia’s commercial kangaroo shootings, the world’s largest wildlife slaughter, is being further fuelled by vast violations of a ban on kangaroo body parts in the State of California, according to a new study by the Center for a Humane Economy, a US-based non-profit organization that promotes animal welfare in the business sector”. 

Matters of concern post fire

Nearly three billion animals — mammals, reptiles, birds, and frogs — were killed or displaced by Australia’s devastating 2019–20 bushfires”.  WWF

You may recall that we spent almost two months travelling the fire grounds in NSW / the ACT and Victoria and did so around that devastating Christmas period of 2019–2020. That was trauma enough, but what shocked me to the core was that, despite the vast numbers of native animals killed during that time, and the large amounts of money flooding in to rescue and care for wildlife because of the fires, the killing of Kangaroos and other native Australian animals continued without mercy. Here are a few examples.

The killing of Kangaroos in the ACT

As you can imagine I receive a large number of communications from people around the world, including Australia, who are very concerned about what is happening to Australia’s wildlife — the killings in Canberra are not a good international image for this country and I can say that this negative perception has grown markedly and will continue to do so unless things change.

What follows is a quote regarding Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve in the ACT where shooting had just occurred:

“Never let it be said that driving heavy vehicles on soggy ground, then stepping all over the grass, plants and flora, gets in the way of killing Kangaroos”.  Robyn Soxsmith (Animal Protectors Alliance) 23 June 2020

The threatened species, which the ACT Government says it is protecting through its mass Kangaroo killing programs, continue to disappear, even after all the Kangaroos have gone. After the removal of Kangaroos from grasslands, cattle appear (ecological grazing) on grassland reserves, hazard reduction burns are also conducted and the plans for Canberra’s expansion suggest another 100,000 homes are required. The science that drives the killing is dubious at best.

They’re advised not to shoot Mums in Canberra, ACT — but they do, here’s how

To try to help the local effort to stop the killing, I had a long discussion with Greens MP, Shane Rattenbury, (among other portfolios he is the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability). Shane has been a keen and long-term supporter of the killing. Shane believes the ACT’s science and quotes it over and over again despite what I described to him. So we went around in a big circle and the killing continues.

According to FOI information obtained, it looks like the ACT Government has spent something in the order of $3.321 million in the four years to 2019 on matters associated with killing Kangaroos.

It is very evident to me, and I am talking continent-wide here, that those protecting wildlife get nothing (particularly if they are protecting Kangaroos), while those killing and demeaning Australia’s wildlife are paid handsomely for their work. It is clear from the rapid endangerment of more and more species across the continent that all governments could have done a great deal better. The current results are a marker of performance.

South Australia and the killing of Kangaroos, adding Wallabies

I have challenged the South Australian Government on their plans to ‘prey switch’ by adding other species of Wallaby and Kangaroo to their ‘harvest list that legalises this abhorrent and cruel trade in wildlife. Additional species include the Kangaroo Island Tammar Wallaby (mainland species thought to have been extinct) and the Eastern Grey Kangaroo (until recently described by the South Australian Government as rare in the state). The later magically increasing in population while other species, because of severe drought and significant levels of killing, have experienced significant declines in already exaggerated population estimates.

“The SA Government estimates there are about 1.5 million red kangaroos in the state, followed by 1.3 million western grey kangaroos and 570,000 wallaroos, or euros. For red kangaroos, that is a fall of 39 per cent from the previous year and 4 per cent down on the average”.  ABC July 2020

The response from the government in relation to my questions regarding the Eastern Grey Kangaroo was as follows:

“Kangaroo populations in the north of the state have declined since 2018 due to drought conditions that continue to effect these regions. The Eastern Grey Kangaroo has increased in distribution and abundance in the south east of SA over the last 10–15 years and no longer meets the requirements of a rare species under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1972.” 

Shockingly one response from the government, when I asked about the dangers inherent in this industry in relation to disease, including COVID and its evident presence in factories processing animals, simply stated that:

“Agricultural industries, which includes the commercial kangaroo industry, and related businesses across the food chain are considered an essential service and may operate as normal with consideration of social distancing and other restrictions”.  SA Department of Environment and Water

Kangaroo Island that tourists love: also a target for kangaroo killing?

Given the scale of the fire tragedy on Kangaroo Island, which also received significant funding for wildlife rescue and rehabilitation from around the world (and the species on it were also a pre-wildfire target for expansion of the commercial trade in Kangaroos and Wallabies) required a question from me in relation to the population survey being conducted on the island and what the government calls a ‘harvest’. Here is the answer:

“The purpose of a kangaroo and wallaby survey on Kangaroo Island is to gather an island wide population estimate post-fire. This information will be used to inform decisions regarding a sustainable harvest on the island”.  SA Department of Environment and Water

In Victoria (as of 3 August 2020) the case of the Lilydale Kangaroos, is yet another stranding, despite the government’s promises that this would not be allowed to happen again. The lives of these animals, they were due to be killed in the next few days as I write, hung in the balance. Along with strong submissions from neighbouring residents and other wildlife defender groups I wrote to the Victoria’s Environment Minister:

“I understand that DELWP are using the excuse that Kangaroos cannot be rescued successfully as 40 percent will die when relocated. As I have said over and over and over again in my many communications to the Victorian Government and in my many writings and articles on the subject, this assertion is a falsehood. And by ignoring the evidence and circumstances we face today, the Victorian Government ignores the endless and immense suffering these animals experience (not to mention the sentient humans that live in this state) caused by the actions of the Victorian Government and its archaic attitudes. And in continuing with the same old nonsense, ignoring the extraordinary loss of wildlife, not only from the persecution of numerous native species by the government (Labor is at least twice as bad as what proceeded it — which was terrible) but also from the wildfires. The latter, can be described as the greatest single catastrophe for Australian wildlife in thousands of years.”

We can only hope, particularly given the disastrous COVID situation in Victoria, that theses animals, a small number, get a reprieve and the government shows some common sense and compassion, rather than allowing the killing of wildlife to continue while the rest of us are told to stay at home.

Now we move to Melbourne’s North and the peri-urban local government area of Nillumbik. I had a strong sense that the Victorian Government’s environment department (DELWP) was trying to open up Melbourne’s peri-urban local government areas (where Kangaroos still exist) to commercial shooters. This is because Kangaroo populations in the rural parts of the state have been decimated as is evident by the figures now showing up on government reports. I hope that the significant concern from a lot of people that this might be the plan, has kept this terrible plan at bay for now. We do however all need to keep an eye on the situation.

The killing of Kangaroos in some regions of Victoria has been significant, and that includes the area around the settlement of Dunkeld in that state’s west where shocking scenes of butchering are described by the town’s residents and business people.

“We could hear shooting very close by and could see the vehicles moving around 178 Victoria Valley Road. We were terrified for, not only our lives, but our neighbours as well.  The Police did not attend; we went outside to see what was happening.  We called the Hamilton Police directly, but they again refused to come out, claiming that the shooter had a permit”.  Jane Gibb, Dunkeld


Here, there is a well-deserved victory for wildlife. Our congratulations to Shai Ager and her colleagues for the hard won success. The battle has been with the Queensland Government, its Environment Department attempting to block rescue efforts of these beautiful and diminutive animals, and in doing so enabling the cruel death of many animals as they have been vandalised and poisoned.


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