Tag Archives: ACT kangaroo cull 2020

Wild lives and broken promises: Why are kangaroos deemed ‘killable’?


IT IS LIKELY that, since the beginnings of human time, people have known animals think, feel, and suffer. In 1789, Jeremy Bentham famously claimed, “The question is not, Can [animals] reason?, nor Can they talk? but, Can they suffer? Why should the law refuse its protection to any sensitive being?”

Legislation, however, moves slowly. The EU recognised animal sentience only in 1997. Germany, the first European country to enshrine this recognition in its constitution, did so in 2002. Australian governments, so far, haven’t been keen to talk about it.

On the face of things, the ACT Legislative Assembly’s recognition of animal sentience in September 2019 would seem something much to be celebrated. Animals, it states, “are sentient beings … able to subjectively feel and perceive the world around them”; they “have intrinsic value and deserve to be treated with compassion and have a quality of life that reflects their intrinsic value”; “people have a duty to care” for their “physical and mental welfare.”

The Animal Welfare Legislation Amendment Act does many good things — among them reducing the time within which one must report discovery of an injured (suffering) animal, such as an animal one’s had a collision with, from twenty-four hours (during which period most will have died) to two (giving some of them a chance), and the provision of a prison sentence of up to three years for wilfully killing an animal.

How, then, can it be that even as Australians reel from the death of nearly a billion wild lives in the fires that ravaged south east Australia just months ago, the ACT government has just signed a five year contract for the annual kangaroo cull? Last year a record 4,035 kangaroos were shot. There’s a target of 1,960 this year. The first shots were heard a little over a month ago, and the shooting will continue until August. In the ten years of these culls, some 20,000 kangaroos have been killed, not including pouch joeys (add one third more), or 14,000 kangaroos slaughtered by the Department of Defence, under licence from the ACT.

The ACT justifies these culls as maintenance of biodiversity, protection of endangered species (of plants, birds, small reptiles), and protection of biomass from overgrazing. These justifications don’t hold up well to scrutiny: endangered species have been safely sequestered; biomass has survived — so well, sometimes, that cattle have been brought in to graze it down — and documents supposedly supporting the culling have not really done so. In evidence to a 2013 hearing of the ACT Civil and Administrative Services Tribunal, an expert witness previously engaged by the ACT suggested the biodiversity justification was a public relations exercise. In a 2015 letter to The Canberra Times, the minister then responsible conceded the real reason for the cull was Canberra’s relentless expansion into kangaroo habitat. Even the CSIRO has expressed qualms.


Share This:

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


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.

Share This: