VICTORIA: COMMENTS ON SPECIES
Remember that in Victoria, out of 16 species of Macropod that existed in the state in the 19th century, 7 are now extinct, three more species, if you include the Red Kangaroo, look as if they are in deep trouble, and I am starting to think about the Western Grey Kangaroo in similar terms, I will be correct if things do not change.
Macropods species have been a focus of the ATCW system and in the ten-year period from 2009 – 2018 ATCWs were issued covering 1,019,904 animals across 6 species. The numbers killed increasing rapidly in the last five years.
We also need to remember that the slaughter of Kangaroos and Wallabies also takes in the young, which are not counted by the ATCW system (these are joeys in-pouch and joeys at-foot, these animals are killed by blunt force and discarded unless they escape to die elsewhere). Roughly, because of mortality rates, 70 per cent of Kangaroo populations are female, any claims that males are the only animals targeted is untrue, females are also killed on mass. Because of size, it is also likely that the larger females, that is those of young bearing age, are the most likely to be shot. So let us say here that a modest 65 per cent of females who were killed had young (this is understated but a rough estimate), so that is, another 464,056 young animals at various stages of joeyhood.
The number of Red Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 33,118) in Victoria was 15.6 times the number of Red Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 2,120). I have expressed my concerns to Victoria’s environment minister regarding what is occurring to the magnificent Red Kangaroo in Victoria, that is, ATCWs are being issued to cover numbers of animals that exceed the species entire population in Victoria. They have taken absolutely no notice of my concerns and just kept going. In their 2017 aerial survey the Victorian Government managed to account for just 23 Red Kangaroos so they know there is a problem here.
EASTERN GREY KANGAROO
The number of Eastern Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 456,712) in Victoria was 3.5 times the number of Eastern Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 129,195). These poor animals have taken the brunt of the expansion of the trade in wildlife in Victoria and killing rates will decimate population numbers.
WESTERN GREY KANGAROO
The number of Western Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs 2016-2018 (at 37,792) in Victoria was 5.3 times the number of Western Grey Kangaroos subject to ATCWs in 2009-2011 (at 7,117). I am now also becoming extremely concerned about the Western Grey Kangaroo, as it is being slaughtered in numbers that are clearly unsustainable.
The story from the Victorian Government regarding the Wallaroo was as follows – “It is important to note that Victoria is the edge of the Wallaroo’s range and although it is listed under the Flora and Fauna Guarantee Act in Victoria, the species is found throughout other eastern Australian states”.
This is a classic case of redefining the distribution and range of species, that is, as the Wallaroo is almost now gone (it is listed as endangered in Victoria) from Victoria, it no longer matters as the species still exists in other states (where its populations are also being shot out). The geographic distribution of the Wallaroo in Victoria was far greater than the Victorian Government pretends. Early settlers in the Melbourne region describe Wallaroos occupying the gullies and steeper country in the vicinity of the early settlement. Museum records indicate the species persisted in the Yan Yean area until the 1960s, today Wallaroos persist only in the far north-eastern corner of Victoria and this represents a tiny fraction of their former distribution, occupying possibly as little as 2 per cent of their former range.
The sedentary habits of the Wallaroo and consequently its poor capacity for dispersal, mass shooting of animals and vast scale clearing of land in the east of the state has occurred in its habitats, further restricting the opportunities for remaining animals to disperse, populations were fargmented beyond repair, now leaving the Wallaroo clinging to its remaining and diminishing range in the east of the state.
Note: How the Tammar Wallaby got onto the list is a mystery, this might relate to captive populations.
The Grey-headed Flying-Fox is listed as vulnerable in Victoria. 38 ATCWs covering 52,160 animals for this species were issued in the years 2009 – 2018. Flying Fox species in Australia are in trouble, particularly from mass die offs caused by heat events, sometimes involving tens of thousands of individuals, so numbers are declining fast. The use of ATCWs here is to scare off colonies, in the Botanical Gardens in Melbourne, the Victorian Government attempted to kill the Flying Foxes but because of the fuss this caused, these animals are now moved on but with fewer and fewer places to go.
In New South Wales and Queensland, where there has also been a dramatic decline in Flying Fox populations, these animals are still shot. The outcome of the killing and harassment of these animals can only end one way, and that is further extinctions, to add to Australia’s already long list of such things.
“Heat stress has killed almost a third of an eastern Victorian town’s native flying fox population (more than 2,000 animals), after extreme weather on Friday”. ABC 29 January 2019.
Colonies of Flying Foxes continue to be harassed, current examples are in Cairns, Queensland and in Colac Victoria. You can read more about Flying Foxes in Australia here.