Category Archives: Australian Capital Territory

Mid July 2021: Canberra succeeds in kangaroo wipeout?

KANGAROOS IN URBAN CANBERRA ARE NOW FUNCTIONALLY EXTINCT

THE ACT GOVERNMENT claims that 1,505 kangaroos have been killed on Canberra Nature Park reserves by the government’s mercenary ex-military killers this year. Notably, the government has not given a breakdown of how many were killed on each reserve.
Here is what we know from this year’s observation and monitoring:

• Before the killing began, there were not more than about thirty kangaroos on Farrer Ridge Nature Reserve and not more than forty on East Jerrabomberra Nature Reserve (although there was a larger mob on the adjoining Jerrabomberra Creek Reserve).

• As of yesterday, when the government announced the end of the slaughter, there had been no shooting at Farrer Ridge or East Jerrabomberra Nature Reserves for five weeks.

• The government shooters shot at East Jerrabomberra only four times throughout the whole killing season.

• There are currently only three kangaroos left on Farrer Ridge Reserve, and none to be found on East Jerrabomberra though, as always, others will dribble in from farms and other reserves in due course.

APA spokesperson, Robyn Soxsmith, notes, “We thought the reason the government kept the reserves closed for so long after the shooting had clearly ceased was because they were waiting for a few refugees to wander back during the last couple of weeks, just so they could have a last little mini bloodbath before the end.

IMAGE: Zoe-Atherfold, iStock

“Thankfully, that hasn’t happened, and we who watched those reserves every night for 43 cold nights can get on with our lives again. Tragically, if the government really has somehow found 1,505 kangaroos to kill, those 1,505 kangaroos no longer have lives to get on with.”

Based on these known figures from two of the closed reserves, it seems likely that most of those killed this year were killed in the “research laboratories” of Mulligans Flat and Goorooyarroo Nature Reserves. However, given the scale of slaughter that has taken place on those laboratories every one of the last thirteen years, it is doubtful kangaroos, even on those huge reserves, could have made the 1,505. Perhaps local farmers are happy to let the government shooters supplement the shortfall from their properties — but even kangaroos on rural properties are scarce these days.

Ms Soxsmith concludes:

“Kangaroos across Australia are in precipitous decline, and Canberra’s urban reserves are now functionally extinct. There are simply not enough kangaroos left for them to carry out their critical ecological role as a keystone species.”

Frankie Seymour, a lifelong advocate for animals, an environmental scientist and a former member (for nearly 18 years) of the ACT government’s own Animal Welfare Advisory Committee, concurs:

“Why else would they be killing kangaroos three to four times faster than it is biologically possible for their populations to recover?”

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Killers stalk ACT suburban woodlands

Majura-woody-grassland-2021-cull

IT’S CRYING OUT for a sociological study. As hired killers with military training hunt survivors in their last refuge in a major city following a 12-year campaign, that city and the country remain mostly silent.

While gunshots echo nightly from the woodlands of Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie, Farrer Ridge, hardly anyone, apparently, says it is untoward that the national icon, the kangaroo, is being gunned down in the suburbs of the national capital, within a quarter kilometre of people’s homes.

Overseas visitors and observers on the other hand can barely believe the disrespect and bloodshed meted out to Australia’s best-recognised native icon.

Imagine, they say, if American authorities were shooting down the bald eagle in the suburbs of Washington DC. Or the English — who of course started all this in Australia with colonisation — went on a mission to severely ‘manage’ with death, their national symbol the predatory lion (a remnant of empire days).

Australians, who are fortunate to still have noticeable populations of native animals, are beguiled into looking the other way by a propaganda story. Broadcast with the assistance of mainstream media, that story is repeated by state employees and politicians. Critically, it is supported by what a closer look might call ‘voodoo’ science. A disorienting cloud of numbers and pronouncements. A matter of belief.

READ ALSO: How Canberra tells you what to think. By Maria Taylor.

The beliefs and ideas came with the colonial settlement of Australia, sweeping away and transforming the nature of the country for a European pastoral economy, for sheep farming in particular. Kangaroo species had to go because they ate grass.

Those beliefs and convictions morphed in the national capital into today’s death-dealing ‘management’ in the suburban reserves to achieve a farm-like vanishing low number of native grazers — the bloodletting defended by politicians armed with ‘expert’ excuses of saving biodiversity of all things.

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Stalking the wooded hills of Canberra

Environmental scientist and long-time wildlife defender Frankie Seymour reports here what those bearing witness to the Canberra slaughter have seen and found in June 2021.

THERE ARE NOW hardly any kangaroos left in any of the reserves of the Canberra Nature Park.

The survivors of 12 years of annual slaughter, in their last refuges on Mt Majura, Mt Ainslie, Farrer Ridge and East Jerrabomberra, are now being hunted by military trained personnel using high tech military equipment. This is a wildlife tragedy entering its final phase.

The direct shooting both on and off reserves, is not the only death facing Canberra’s suburban kangaroos. The kangaroos’ off-reserve habitat is rapidly being developed for exclusive human use.

Because the reserves are fragmented by busy arterial roads, huge numbers of kangaroos die of car strike. Because the reserves are on degraded farmland, most are surrounded by barbed-wire fencing. Many kangaroos, fleeing the shooting, are impaled on the barbed wire and die the most horrible death imaginable.

On some Canberra grassland reserves, kangaroos are now being excluded by kangaroo-proof fencing, [much like the landscape scale exclusion fencing that indiscriminately kills a wide swath of wildlife now being taken up by some NSW graziers].

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Canberra Nature Park Mount Majura: closed to public. Author supplied.

The shooters seem to have no compunction about crushing what is left of the native vegetation and biodiversity driving their heavy vehicles off-road around the reserves.

Further exclusion of grazing kangaroos and other native plants and animals is resulting from an explosion weeds on their habitat: recently thorny saffron thistles. The irony is that the weed invasions could have been prevented by leaving the kangaroos, at their natural densities, to manage the vegetation of the reserves as evolution designed them to do.

How they hunt in the woodlands

Red dot sights suffer targeting
inaccuracy and especially inaccurate
in cold weather

There is not much chance of ‘clean kill’ shooting this year. The shooters seem to have decided to shoot in almost total darkness, relying on red dot sights to target their victims. Red dot sights have been found to be subject to point-of-aim deviation and to be especially inaccurate in cold weather.

Chances of hitting the head or the heart with the first shot, as required by the Code of Practice, are much reduced by this targeting method.

At Mount Ainslie, the shooting area is woodland where it is unlikely a shooter could ever get a full body view of his target.

So far this year, we have found two very young kangaroos, apparently left behind by the clean-up truck, both shot in the eye, one at East Jerrabomberra and one at Mount Ainslie. One wonders how these two kangaroo children managed to be killed so “cleanly”. One suspects, being small, they were captured and held down while they were executed.

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The location of one of the youngsters, on the side of Northcott Drive just outside the Campbell Park offices, suggests that the killers are doing some of their shooting very close to public roads, open reserves, off-reserve habitat, suburbs and workplaces, endangering humans as well as wildlife.

Bullets can travel three km; and ricochets can occur in woodland.

Shooting near public roads is not new for the ACT government’s hired guns. From 2015 to 2020, shooting at Isaacs Ridge was routinely occurring within 20–30 metres of Mugga Lane.

Apparently, this is the new normal. If other species are shot, the government will simply deny it, as they have denied other impacts of this program.

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Editor’s note: Sweetie, pictured here and the daughter of one of our resident kangaroo mothers, is growing up before my eyes. We have known her from a pouch infant. She is one beautiful face of the co-existence with other animals, native and domestic, that brightens our days. Half-grown, Sweetie would be about the same age as the joey found shot and discarded as rubbish near the Campbell Park offices. Many Canberra neighbours have their nights disturbed for months listening to gunshots that execute their local kangaroo friends.  — Maria Taylor

RELATED ARTICLE: Re-thinking kangaroos: The ethics of the slaughter of a species. By David Brooks. ABC Religion and Ethics. 7 June 2021

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ACT government’s shameful war on kangaroos thankfully over for 2020

ACT-annual-slaughter-Feb2020

THE ACT GOVERNMENT has proudly claimed that it murdered 1,931 Eastern Grey Kangaroos during it 2020 annual slaughter program. APA (Animal Protectors Alliance) considers it highly unlikely that anywhere near 1,931 kangaroos were killed on ACT reserves this year.

“It is far more likely that, if this figure is anything other than a complete fabrication, most of the killing was conducted on private property,” spokesperson, Robyn Soxsmith notes.

Many reserve observers have noted that there were nowhere near 1,931 kangaroos present on ACT reserves prior to commencement of this year’s massacre. Furthermore, throughout the seven weeks of the slaughter, no more than 200 shots were recorded on the south-side reserves (Callum Brae, Isaacs Ridge, West Jerrabomberra and Mugga Mugga), by watchers who were positioned well within hearing range of any shooting, every night of the massacre.

Ms Soxsmith speculates, “It is extremely likely that most of the killing occurred on local farms. This would be a win-win solution for the ACT government and the farmers. The farmers get all their kangaroos killed at taxpayers’ expense, and the government saves face for its preposterous estimates of the number of kangaroos present on ACT nature reserves”.

“It is of course a lose-lose tragedy for the kangaroos, the environment, and all the other residents of the ACT,” Ms Soxsmith adds.

Wherever the killing took place, and however many were murdered by this barbarous ACT government policy, innocent animals had their lives blown away, families were shattered, untold pouch joeys were bludgeoned to death, and untold at-foot joeys orphaned to die of starvation, dehydration, exposure and myopathy. All this cruelty is in accordance with the government’s hypocritically named “National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes”.

“What was not in accordance with even that disgustingly inadequate code of practice is the shooting that took place on Isaacs Ridge Reserve in heavy fog on 24 June, where many blood trails and blood puddles were found the following morning, and the shooting that occurred on Callum Brae Reserve on 14 July in 45 kph winds,” Ms Soxsmith notes.

The government also claims, as it always does, that the slaughter was carried out to reduce the impact of the kangaroos on other native species and to manage overgrazing in grassy habitats around Canberra.

This assertion has been well and truly debunked by the CSIRO research which shows that:

  •  vegetation on ACT reserves is more rich and diverse with some kangaroos than none;
  •  vegetation on ACT reserves is just as rich and diverse with three kangaroos per hectare as one per hectare; and
  •  no ACT reserves appears to be inhabited by more than three kangaroos per hectare.

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

advised-not-shoot-mums-AWPCjuly2020

THE ACT GOVERNMENT supplies anyone who questions their annual kangaroo family slaughter — killing Australia’s favourite tourism icon in the national capital — with a comforting ‘scientific’ fact sheet.

The Bulletin has previously published an independent critique of the relevance or validity of the scientific argument that kangaroos damage other native flora or fauna on the city’s nature reserves.

We also recently obtained FOI confirmation on just how much the killing is costing ACT citizens. A lot, in dollars and also in moral terms for those who care about our wildlife.

There is an underlying sinister reason for brandishing the ‘science’ of management for ecological damage. It is used as a justification for wiping out whole kangaroo families with young at-foot and babies in the pouch.

The ecological arguments get around a provision of the Code of Practice that the government waves at residents saying its activities are “humane”. The code advises against killing females. But if they cite managing for ecological reasons they can. Since joeys are often present with kangaroo mums, they are an inevitable part of the death and destruction.

This risible ACT-devised argument that kangaroos are a threat to surrounding biodiversity is now being used as public relations by others — like the commercial kangaroo industry killing for skins and meat that operates throughout eastern Australia. It may also be taken up by other state parks services to justify killing on behalf of farmers, developers or the commercial industry.

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Frankie Seymour* writes:

THE CODE

The ACT government’s basis for claiming its annual massacre of kangaroos on Canberra reserves is humane is the  National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes.

This is the same code of practice which proves in fact that the slaughter is grossly inhumane. The requirement to bludgeon and/or decapitate younger joeys is tabulated in detail in Section 5, (on pp12–13).

Section 2.4 advises shooters to avoid shooting female kangaroos except in special circumstances such as “for management and/or ecological reasons”. This is why the ACT government has to pretend the slaughter is for “management and/or ecological reasons”, despite the absence of evidence supporting that claim.

The code goes on to require at-foot joeys to be “shot as soon as possible” after their mothers but the reality is that at-foot joeys move and disappear very quickly when their mothers tell them to run and hide, so shooters rarely get the opportunity to shoot them. [They die later from car strike, dogs or malnutrition]. Furthermore, it was revealed at the ACAT (Tribunal) hearing of 2014 that young at-foot do not count towards the number of kangaroos the shooters have killed, so there is little incentive for shooters to pursue them.

roo-mum-joey-feeding-MariaTaylor-june2020Mothers nurse joeys until 18 months

The ACT government claims that it conducts its slaughter at the time of year when there are likely to be fewer dependent young at-foot; but the government’s Kangaroo Management Plan also admits (p11) that mothers continue nursing their joeys until they are 18-months-old.

So, there is no time in the course of any 12-month period when killing a mature female kangaroo will not orphan a dependent joey. Additionally, in the current good season after drought, virtually every mature female kangaroo can be expected to have at least a pouch joey for the shooters to decapitate or bludgeon to death. (IMAGE: Maria Taylor)

No monitoring of what goes on in the killing fields

There is no enforcement of the even the few, flimsy protections provided by the code: no police, no vets, no welfare agencies. The killing is completely unmonitored, except by protestors. This year there has not been even a single government ranger is sight while shooting has been underway.

The National Code now in use in the ACT was never approved by the ACT government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee. Unlike the ACT’s own Code which it replaced, it fails to prohibit the driving and trapping of kangaroos which caused such horrific panic, myopathy, injury, and separation of mothers from joeys at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station in 2008.

That suffering was documented and published nationally and internationally by hundreds of eye witnesses (see imagery below). In the absence of a prohibition on driving kangaroos, quad bikes are now routinely used during the ACT’s annual slaughter on Canberra nature reserves to herd kangaroos out of wooded areas into open areas where they can be more easily shot.

kangaroo-cull-historical-imagery*Frankie Seymour is an environmental scientist who has observed and opposed the Canberra kangaroo killing program for the past decade. She is a former long-time member of government’s Animal Welfare Advisory Committee.

 

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ACT sticking to annual slaughter of kangaroos (?) despite bushfire inferno, victims

ACT-annual-slaughter-Feb2020

Below is a media statement from Animal Protectors Alliance commenting on the ACT government plans to cement its annual shooting of grey kangaroos on city reserves (government put out a tender for a shooter and helper for the next five years). This shameful ritual slaughter of adults, involving also bashing of in-pouch joeys and slow death of still-dependent joeys would be going into its 11th year. The slaughter of the national icon looks set to continue, unless the community convinces the ACT government to stop this barbaric and senseless practice. Whether you are a citizen of Australia or an international visitor, let the ACT government know what you think about that.

………………………………………………..

AS FIRES RAGE around the ACT, uncontrolled and unlikely to be fully extinguished for months, kangaroos are fleeing into the ACT, many dying of their wounds, or on our roads, or on our barbed wire fences.

The ACT was once a refuge for kangaroos fleeing shooting in surrounding NSW. Now it is a deadly sink where thousands of these animals are slaughtered every year.

The government defends the annual slaughter by claiming that shooters are required to adhere to a Code of Practice.

Spokesperson for APA (Animal Protectors Alliance), Robyn Soxsmith described this claim as “unforgivable hypocrisy”.

Former member (for nearly 18 years) of the ACT government’s own Animal Welfare Advisory Committee (AWAC), Frankie Seymour, explains that the entire purpose of the Code of Practice is to exempt from prosecution acts of cruelty that would otherwise be offences under the ACT’s own Animal Welfare Act.

Ms Seymour asserts, “The ACT government had the option of developing a humane code of practice: one that prohibited killing of mothers with dependent young, bludgeoning joeys to death or orphaning them to starvation, prohibited herding and driving kangaroos into a state of fatal myopathy. They could have had a code that recognised the ACT as the ‘Bush Capital’, recognised Canberra’s unique role in providing a refuge from the unfettered carnage underway in NSW. Instead they joined the other states in betraying our native animals for all the worst possible reasons.

“I believe the killing serves no other purpose than to garner votes and agistment fees for cattle grazing from farmers, and high rents and rates from developers. It has nothing to do with protecting the environment,” Ms Seymour concludes.

Robyn Soxsmith continues. “The ACT government claims its slaughter of kangaroos is science-based and environmentally beneficial. But when you look into the sources they quote in the references section of their Kangaroo Management Plan, you discover that there is no independent science that justifies the annual massacre.

“Even the CSIRO found that three kangaroos per hectare is better for the environment than none, and no worse than one or two. Yet the government’s ‘calculator’ of how many to kill is based on the totally imaginary and arbitrary premise that more than one kangaroos per hectare is too many. In deference to this science-free calculator, the government religiously kills any kangaroos in excess of one per hectare.”

APA is calling on the ACT government to assure the people of Canberra that, in view of the fires and the ACT’s status as a refuge for kangaroos who have miraculously escaped into the ACT, there will be no government slaughter of kangaroos this year.

> The ACT Conservation Minister for the Environment and Heritage; and the Minister for Climate Change and Sustainability contact details are available on pg3 of this link. 

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