Tag Archives: ACT kangaroo cull

How Canberra tells you what to think

canberra-kangaroo-cull-2021-crBrettClifton

EVERY MAY MOTHER’S DAY or thereabouts, Canberra politicians, Labor, Green and Liberal, spoil the season by giving thumbs up to what they like to portray as an unremarkable slaughter of our national emblem in the nation’s capital.

On public nature reserves, this involves shooting kangaroo families — mums and males — bashing pouch joeys to death, and bulldozing all their bodies into pits. Lost and bewildered older joeys flee, jump in front of cars or end at the mercy of dogs. Neighbouring residents can be traumatised by the carnage that continues every night for months.

MAIN IMAGE: © Brett Clifton.

Already signed is a deal to continue the killing for another five years, with militarised contractors hunting in the suburbs for surviving animals. Unless it’s stopped by voters. It costs the public purse close to a million dollars annually. The real reason why this is happening? That’s still anyone’s guess.

But Canberra nature park managers or politicians offer residents a revolving list of ‘facts’ on why the killing must happen. Their assertions are amplified by the local media. No questions asked. Few dissenting voices get a platform and if they are mentioned they are labelled ‘protesters’, ‘activists’, ‘animal rights advocates’ (heaven forbid) — anything other than just plain concerned citizens of Australia.

I have watched this annual ritual for the past decade and sadly reported on it, and recently researched and wrote a book on the history, culture and legacy of Australia’s wildlife killing habits www.mariataylor.com.au. Canberrans are subject to the same narrative about kangaroos as the rest of the country. We’re all encouraged to agree and shrug. Elsewhere when a group is demonised prior to killing, it’s called propaganda.

We must all think alike

What we have is a dominant narrative on how to think about kangaroos. How to think is sold to the public in lockstep by economic interests (commercial kangaroo processors, grazier and farming lobbies) working with politicians and government power. Their perspective is supported or supplied by some applied ecologists and ‘pest’ management specialists, mostly taxpayer funded. What they all say is uncritically reported in most Australian media.

You can hear this narrative any day of the week and it is on the upswing at the moment with a move in the United States Congress to ban the import of Australian kangaroo skin and meat. The EU is also being asked to consider bans. This pushback is portrayed by Australian officials and mainstream media outlets as an assault on a must-have export industry. The word ‘treasonous’ has been used.

The remaining large kangaroos are now Australia’s most persecuted indigenous animal with an unchanging storyline to justify the extensive bloodshed.

The world loves Skippy the bush kangaroo and he or she draws tourists by the planeload. This unique marsupial holds up one half of our national coat of arms —along with the equally unique emu — also a victim of mass persecution since settlement.

Yet at home, we became a culture of silence and conformity that treats the kangaroo as either a pest or a product.

We lead the world

The treatment of native wildlife since colonial times has morphed in the past 70 years into the world’s biggest on-land wildlife slaughter of kangaroos, for their skins and meat and just for removal. Almost no Australians appear to know this. The much beloved koala — now on the brink of regional extinctions — suffered a similar savage slaughter for its fur coat up until the mid-1920s and has never recovered.

The ACT may claim that its killing is somehow better because it is non-commercial, but the cull is very much part of that post-colonial value tradition.

big-fella-ACT-cull-supplied
IMAGE: Supplied.

What are those values? Disrespect and disinterest in understanding the contributions of native grazers in balanced ecosystems. And flat-out demonisation of any native animal that bothers agricultural businesses or sometimes other commercial interests, or ACT motorists. That starts with grazing kangaroos and wallabies, but also targets emus, wombats, dingos, eagles, other birds. Culturally, there is a direct line of thinking from colonial times.

This thinking has become so embedded in the narrative that any claims about ‘too many’, and that our export nation and graziers need kangaroos to be killed, just gets an automatic nod from media organisations starting with the national broadcaster and seen throughout Australia’s highly-concentrated private press. Overseas visitors are amazed at the disrespect, while most Australians stay silent.

The Canberra cull is related in cultural understanding and dog whistling ‘pest’ and ‘too many’.

Now Canberra’s advising ecologists have pivoted to another compelling narrative that deflects enquiries: the story now is that all of ‘biodiversity’, which suddenly does not include kangaroos, benefits from the annual slaughter. Females with pouch-joeys and dependent young can be killed more freely under this framework in the ACT’s code of practice.

PR relies on scientists

This culture is across Australia — the commercial kangaroo industry has a very active PR operation and often relies on supporting voices that say ‘trust us, we’re scientists”.  ACT narratives have relied on similar claims of scientific insight.

Missing: reports about the role of all
kangaroo species in their ecosystems

What’s missing? Any reporting about the benefits of coexistence and what that might look like.

Missing is any reporting on research about the role of all kangaroo species in their ecosystems — what do they contribute to healthy grassy woodlands? They co-evolved with those habitats. Equally missing are voices that tell us what kangaroos and other wildlife could contribute to Australia, to Canberra and to farm economies through tourism and related spending.

© Maria Taylor.

Our native wildlife is much more valuable alive than dead. A new win-win narrative must highlight respect, ecological understanding and a decision to share our land.

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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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Media Release: “Canberra Kangaroo culls rely on stale politicized science”

MEDIA RELEASE: 15 May 2016: “Canberra Kangaroo culls rely on stale politicized science”: Australian Wildlife Protection Council says

Today, Maryland Wilson, AWPC President, said that Evolutionary Sociologist, Sheila Newman recently reviewed the government science behind the ACT culls, which will begin anew on Monday 16 April 2016. Newman found it excessively narrow, self-referencing, mechanistic and old-fashioned.   Newman reported in Conference Paper: REVIEW OF SCIENTIFIC BASIS OF CANBERRA’S KANGAROO CULLS that:

“Harvesting, damage mitigation and culling probably actually accelerate population growth in roos because the smaller ones survive and adapt by sexually maturing earlier – which speeds up fertility turnover.

Since 2003 DNA studies have shown that ACT and southern NSW roos, both male and female, migrate at significant rates and for longer distances than the ACT model assumes. Migration has probably been mistaken for fertility, rendering ACT roo counts unreliable and invalid. The ACT needs to stop culling and widen its research base to consider various genetically based algorithms that naturally restrain fertility opportunities in kangaroos.”

Examples of such algorithms include separate gender pathways, with ‘sexual segregation’ where male and female populations live apart. It is likely that the stable presence of mature dominant males and females in family and mob organisation inhibits sexual maturity and activity as has been shown in studies of other species, such as macaques and superb fairy wrens (the latter cooperative breeders). In humans, girls brought up with step-fathers who came late to the family were more likely to mature sexually earlier due to absence of Westermarck Effect.)”

“The ACT’s senior Ecologist, Donald Fletcher, found in his Phd that local kangaroos lived without damaging pasture or starving at densities of 5 per hectare, yet he had supported the ACT program that deems kangaroos at more than one per hectare to be in danger of starving and a threat to their own habitat.” 

crueltyillegalherdingcrashing

The ACT government in Canberra is pursuing a policy of rapid human population growth, mostly through publicly invited economic immigration, yet it blames kangaroos for being crowded out of the suburbs.

In June 2016 ACT – South West Australian Capital Territory was the fastest growing area in Australia and grew by 127.3%. (ABS http://www.abs.gov.au/ausstats/abs@.nsf/mf/3218.0)

“Planned wildlife corridors need to be made safe and long-term viable to cope with people, car and kangaroo population movements. Most Australians love kangaroos and don’t want rapid human population growth. Australia’s capital needs to revise its growth policy in line with sustainability, democracy and appreciation of our unique ecology,” said Maryland Wilson, President, AWPC.

CONTACT: MARYLAND WILSON: 613 359788570 and 61417148501 and SHEILA NEWMAN 0412319669

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Regional friends of wildlife release April 2015

HABITAT LOSS, SHOOTING, CARS, DOGS, FENCES ARE THE REAL STORY BEHIND CANBERRA KANGAROO NUMBERS AS NEW ‘CULL’ SET

Kangaroos in the ACT persist in anything approaching natural densities in only 15 percent of their former habitat, according to a 2014 report. This exposes as false, government claims to the public that kangaroos are ‘overabundant’ and in numbers that top the nation and therefore it’s OK to kill them.

Regional Friends of Wildlife says the report shows much of what is told the public and the media about kangaroos in the territory is false and propaganda, to justify an unethical and unnecessary government experiment in removing most remaining kangaroos from the city landscape.

The 2015 cull is set to begin on 1 May with another one approved for 2106.

“Already, and particularly when they are finished with this next two rounds of culling, most Canberrans and their overseas visitors will no longer see a kangaroo anywhere near the city, except in Queanbeyan and out in the national parks,” said Regional Friends member and President of the Animal Justice Party Steve Garlick.

“This is a huge loss to the citizenry and to tourism but also a tragic injustice to a kangaroo species that is willing and able to co-exist with us and provides ecosystem services such as native grass seed dispersal and lowering bushfire danger through grazing,” said Professor Garlick noting that the reserve managers now bring in cows to do that task.

The 2014 report by field ecologist Ray Mjadwesch was prepared for the ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT) case disputing the 2014 licenses to kill kangaroos.

It shows that compared to the Eastern Grey’s former range, including leasehold farmland:

Eastern Grey Kangaroos are extinct from 26.6% of the ACT, due to land use changes (city and urban areas, and heavily modified rural landscapes.

Kangaroos are under pressure across 29.9% of the ACT, due to agricultural activities including loss of habitat (pine plantations), culling on private rural leases and shooting in reserves.

Kangaroos persist in anything like ‘natural’ densities in intact habitat in only 15.2% of the ACT.

28.3% of the ACT is unsuitable habitat for EGK due to steep terrain, incorrect vegetation types, etc.

“This work suggests that Eastern Grey Kangaroos may have experienced an overall decline across at least 56.5% of the ACT, including total extinction from over a quarter of their former range,“ said Garlick.

“The temporary higher densities people may have seen in some reserves like Goorooyaroo are very much related to housing estates popping up next door on their former range in Gungahlin.”

Regular shooting by nearby leaseholders may also have driven more animals to the seeming sanctuary of urban reserves.

Contact Prof Steve Garlick 0428 88 05 64; 6238 1533

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Where’s the environmental extremists now that Belconnen is being “developed” for housing?

Despite the massive “cull” of kangaroos, 2008, there’s new housing “developments” planned for Belconnen. Sections of the site are listed for its natural heritage as habitat for the endangered Golden Sun Moth. The site also contains the only known location of the threatened Ginninderra Peppercress, a small perennial herb.

sm-kangaroos-belconnen1

  514 healthy kangaroos including pouched joeys and at-foot joeys were killed unnecessarily at Belconnen in Canberra in 2008. Now part of this land is being 
 developed for housing. (http://www.kangaroofootprints.com.au/photo-gallery.htm)

Back in 2013, the ACT government announced that the first release of 124 single residential blocks will take place before the end of the year and will be sold through an auction process.

The first stage of the suburb will also include the release of a further 12 multi-unit sites bringing the total to 560 dwellings. The adjoining Defence land was the site of the 2008 kangaroo culls, which gained international attention. There *could* also be more residential development on this 143-hectare site in future – prophesied back then!

The West Belconnen / Parkwood development will include three new suburbs in the north west of Canberra adjacent to Holt and Macgregor and a new settlement in the Yass Valley immediately adjacent to the border.

The vision for the development is to “create a community that provides diverse, affordable and inclusive places to live, work and play”. There will be a range of housing options for individuals and families at “affordable prices”. Up to 11,500 new homes will accommodate about 30,000 people, the project will help meet existing and future demand for housing for the next 30-40 years.

The CSIRO are selling the land. CSIRO general manager for business and infrastructure Mark Wallis stressed the organisation was not looking to sell the site. “We are looking for a joint-venture development partner and one that’s aligned with our aspirations for the site, which is to ensure we deliver the benchmark in urban sustainable design and also to tackle the problem of affordable housing,” he said.

A site, known as Section 200, will have up to 745 dwellings and has been likened to Canberra’s NewActon precinct.

Back in 2008, ACT Chief Minister Jon Stanhope has released a report from the Environment Commissioner which recommended culling kangaroos by lethal injection. The report by Maxine Cooper recommended urgent action to ensure no further damage is done to the grassland ecosystem at the Belconnen Naval Transmission Station.

It was to protect endangered species. The threat to biodiversity in Canberra’s native reserves was a key justification for the night-time exercise, with rapid deterioration blamed on extensive overgrazing by the growing kangaroo population.

Peter Dowling, National Heritage Officer with the National Trust explains they’ve lobbied the government several times, all the way up to the Prime Minister for the site of the former aerial farm to be left for grasslands ecology studies. “The BNTS site is prime residential land and some of it has been given over to future residents there,” he said.

The conservation extremist are deafening in their silence when housing growth threatens native grasslands and threatened species.

Contamination near suburb, FOI search reveals

shameful-pit

 

The ACT Population is projected to reach 400,000 by 2017 and 500,000 by 2033, mainly due to overseas migration.

 

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