AWPC committee member Maria Taylor had this letter published in the Canberra Times on 18 July 2021 after another, yearly, brutal hunt against kangaroo families in the national capital. We wonder how it plays to the international community.
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.
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.
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].
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.
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.
OUR REGION IS fortunate to have an abundance of beautiful waterways, which are home to a diverse range of native wildlife including water birds, frogs, turtles, platypus, rakali [water rat], fish and other aquatic creatures.
Many land-dwelling creatures also rely on our waterways for drinking water and food, but sadly, the human impact on these environments is often detrimental to these creatures.
Recreational fishing, when not undertaken responsibly, is a frequent cause of phone calls to Wildcare Queanbeyan. Injuries often occur when birds and turtles become entangled in fishing line or are snagged on, or swallow, discarded fishing hooks.
These animals suffer horribly, often unable to eat, swim or walk, until they are captured or die because of their injuries.
This ibis’s leg was broken after it became entangled in fishing line. Author supplied.
If you are fishing and an animal becomes entangled in line or caught on a hook, the best thing to do is to call Wildcare Queanbeyan while the animal is still trapped.
DO NOT CUT THE LINE. It is much easier to catch a tethered animal and quick action by the person who is fishing can save the animal considerable suffering and rescuers many hours of effort. [For effecting rescues it helps to keep something like a box, plus blanket or pillowcase in the car.]
Platypus and rakali can also experience fishing-related injuries, swallowing hooks or lures. They can also drown if they become tangled in discarded fishing line or yabby traps. A recent study by the Australian Platypus Conservancy found that at any one time 4% of platypus are entangled in one or more items of rubbish, including elastic hair ties, fishing line and plastic rings from bottles and jars.
A rat lure and fishing line found discarded on a local waterway. Author supplied.
Responsible fishing requires that all rubbish and discarded fishing equipment — including lines, lures and hooks — are safely disposed of. Remember that the use of opera house yabby traps is now illegal in NSW (as of 30 April 2021).
If you come across sick injured or orphaned wildlife, please phone Wildcare Queanbeyan on 6299 1966 at any time.
DAVINA DUCK AND and her three children Dixie, Dee and Dilley urgently need your help. These gentle, defenceless, voiceless, beautiful birds live their lives in wetlands all over Victoria and the Victorian Labor government has again allowed, supported and promoted another season of duck shooting.
This cruel, barbaric and inhumane slaughter of native wildbirds must be banned forever. This video taken on the first day of the 2021 Duck Shooting season shows very clearly why? This little duck was alive, grabbed by a dog and then the sadistic shooter held the little duck while the dog savagely ripped it apart. It is beyond belief how anyone could commit this atrocity on another living being and just for ‘fun’.
This little duck will never see another sunrise or sunset and you can hear the little duck crying as its life ends so horrifically.
I am writing on behalf of all the ducks and their chicks who will be subjected to this killing spree until June 14. The adult ducks who are killed will leave chicks to die a long and agonising death as a result of starvation.
Duck shooting must be banned forever and the only way to achieve this is for compassionate, caring, intelligent and educated people to stand up for what they believe in, raise their voices and demand change.
These native water birds live in wetlands and they should be havens for these gentle birds, not killing fields where they are slaughtered for fun.
Can you please post and share this video so that all your compassionate, caring supporters will be informed about this needless slaughter and hopefully take action. Once informed people can send an email, make a phone call to politicians and join with thousands of Victorians to Ban Duck Shooting Forever.
No compassionate, caring person could watch this video and not be horrified and appalled at how this little, gentle, defenceless duck ended its life.
The government should be promoting and supporting nature-based tourism in all these regional and remote areas as this will provide jobs, support small businesses and ensure the long term profitablity and sustainability for regional communities, all of which are struggling in today’s world.
Each of us has a voice and as shown by young people like Greta Thunberg and Malala we can change the world.
This special message is written on behalf of Davina Duck and her three children Dixie, Dee and Dilley and all voiceless and defenceless native waterbirds and wildlife.
Remind these politicians of the Vision and Purpose of their Animal Welfare Action Plan as they have obviously never read the Plan or it was simply a PR exercise and lots of spin.
Vision: A Victoria that fosters the caring and respectful treatment of animals.
Purpose: To ensure Victoria continues to improve animal welfare and is well respected globally for animal welfare practices.
The Humane Society International has publicly condemned the Victorian Labor government:
“Allowing this activity to continue would be an affront to conservation and contravene the commitments made in Victoria’s Animal Welfare Action Plan, tarnishing the stated aim for Victoria to be respected globally for its animal welfare practices.”
“The love of all living creatures is the most notable attribute of man.” — Charles Darwin
Calls for immediate shut down of bird shoot due to “uncontrollable” lawlessness and health risks
NOT EVEN A week since Victoria’s recreational bird shoot started and not even covid restrictions have prevented lawlessness and cruelty.
Shocking pictures on social media show the proximity of men in army fatigues with guns near built-up areas.
Reports have been made to the regulator about illegal shooting — well before allowable time — with the regulator’s response 24 hours later requesting more information which would help them identify the perpetrator.
Regional Victorian Opposed to Duck Shooting Inc (RVOTDS) are not surprised. “This happens every shooting season. Not only are regional families having to live with this happening on their doorsteps, but they also have to put themselves in harm’s way to collect evidence for the regulator to do its job as well.”
Elsewhere, a complaint was made that shooters were flouting covid restrictions with the alarming outcome the police did not know the covid rules and nothing was done.
And elsewhere, appalling cruelty appears to have been captured on video of a shooter trying to hide from cameras as he fed pieces of a live bird to his dog.
“It is abundantly clear this pastime is unable to be controlled and poses a serious risk to our native birdlife and rural communities” said Kerrie Allen spokesperson for RVOTDS.
“Why shooting native birds was ever allowed to proceed during covid is beyond us. Now we have lawless guys with guns around the state and bands of rescuers having to follow them. It’s unnecessary and dangerous when an ugly variant of fast spreading virus is breathing down our necks.”
“Victoria is a basket case right now and is it any wonder? Time for accountability. That starts with saying ‘no’ — like other states have — to a group of folks who like to shoot birds for fun.”
RVOTDS has submitted a lengthy complaint to the regulator about it’s “cumulative failings over the years’ and they say if that is not responded to quickly and appropriately they will take it “far further”. In the interim they are calling on James Merlino acting Premier to shut down the shooting immediately.
“The regulator is still unable to provide accurate maps of where shooting is / is not allowed. It has also failed to list wetland closures on its website. How are shooters supposed to know where they can shoot let alone how are the public meant to know where to avoid?
“Regional families have been totally forsaken on this issue year after year. We believe compensation is due given all the long days, weeks and months we’ve had to put up with this madness in our backyards every year with no consideration by policy makers.”
1080 POISON HAS been banned by many countries around the world with very good reason and yet across NSW, our state government continues to saturate our landscapes with this hideous and cruel poison through ground baiting and aerial drops.
1080 poison kills its victims slowly and painfully. It’s a violent, merciless and abhorrent way for any living being to die, and is increasingly killing our family companion animals (dogs) and working dogs and many native species.
“Australia’s native dog, the Dingo, [main image] is a prime target of 1080 poisoning on behalf of sheep farmers. All canine species are targets, including foxes as well as other introduced mammals like pigs that escape into the countryside. State authorities deny more widespread species risk of being poisoned, against all evidence.”
IMAGE: Susan Cruttenden.
It’s indiscriminate and there is no antidote. Half a teaspoon can kill an adult human — much less a child, and secondary poisoning can and does occur.
The government and agencies like Department of Primary Industries and Local Land Service, and often the local councils, reassure us that 1080 poison is “humane”, and yet they know without any doubt that it’s not. They tell us it’s safe for our environment and native species, and yet authorities are intentionally and wilfully targeting native wallabies in Tasmania with 1080 poison, knowing it kills them and not caring how it kills them.
60 sheep poisoned in SA
Recently in SA, 60 sheep died a gruesome death after ingesting 1080 poison and in Victoria a $4,000 fine was imposed by the courts for the illegal and unsafe storage of copious amounts of poisons, including 1080, without a licence. How many sheds across NSW are storing lethal doses of 1080 poison is anyone’s guess, and clearly the ‘regulators’ and government haven’t a clue. Their monitoring and enforcement regimes are seriously lacking.
More and more members of the public are coming forward with distressing personal accounts of finding a much-loved dog dead, or worse, being traumatised after witnessing first hand, the suffering an animal goes through after taking a 1080 bait or experiencing secondary poisoning, including, violent convulsions, vomiting, screaming and absolute sheer terror.
Some families have lost multiple dogs and all feel helpless trying to ease the suffering of their dog or dogs by rushing them to a vet — often too far away with many dying in agony in transit. Can we even begin to imagine such an experience or how a child would ever recover bearing witness to watching their family friend suffer and die this way.
The NSW Minister for Agriculture and Western NSW, Adam Marshall, who has a clear conflict of interest also overseeing animal welfare, often supports these 1080 baiting programs, and yet he claims to be an animal lover. This is the same National Party minister who has continued to fail the welfare of all NSW animals in spectacular fashion.
With the stroke of a LNP privileged pen, Mr Marshall continues to unleash successive lethal 1080 baiting programs using millions of dollars in public money — without consulting the public. The most recent NSW 1080 baiting program includes an area the size of Russia. Think about that.
Floods spreading baits around countryside?
Recent devastating flooding saw homes, caravans, boats and many animals swept across the landscape and ending up a long way from their original locations. Think about how easily and widespread 1080 baits have also spread across the NSW landscape in these floods, and whether your drinking water catchment or your family is still safe.
Our government knows poisons like 1080 are ineffective population control — they don’t work, and have been proven to fail which is precisely why they continue to use this odourless and colourless poison year after year and decade after decade — with your public money. The same old lethal programs, political rhetoric and verbal excuses continue because it suits political policy directions, and because it’s cheap.
Reach out and say enough
If, like many Australians, you are concerned and feel compelled to become part of a local solution, please reach out and contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.