Animal rights activists have vowed to make a planned cull of more than 2000 kangaroos ‘‘as difficult as we can for the ACT government’’.
Members of animal welfare groups, including the Australian Society for Kangaroos, will protest today as the government closes nine nature reserves for the culling of 2015 eastern grey kangaroos.
A recent survey of 600 Canberrans by Territory and Municipal Services found 79 per cent were supportive of kangaroo culling under some circumstances and 70 per cent were supportive of culling for conservation of small grassland and woodland animals. The Canberra Times online poll has support for culling at 41 per cent. To vote go to canberratimes.com.au
The sites to be closed for culling are Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Crace Nature Reserve, Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve, Jerrabomberra West Nature Reserve, Kama Nature Reserve, Mount Painter Nature Reserve, Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve, the Pinnacle Nature Reserve and Wanniassa Hills Nature Reserve.
The parks will be closed from 6pm today until 6pm on Tuesday, June 12, to allow for the controlled culling of ‘‘over-abundant eastern grey kangaroos’’.
But protesters said they would man the reserves to try to disrupt the killing of the animals.
One of the intended burial sites for the kangaroos was switched to another location yesterday after the activists stumbled upon the proposed burial ground in south Canberra.
‘‘We’ll mount the usual public protest, but we’ll also make it as difficult as we can for the ACT government, the shooters and the rangers,’’ campaigner Carolyn Drew said. ‘‘Protesters will front up at the gates, protesters will be there but we can’t divulge what we’ve planned. That is for everyone to find out.
‘‘We’ll be out there as soon as it gets dark.’’
Ms Drew said instead of culling the kangaroos, which was ‘‘starting to take its toll’’, the ACT government should develop better wildlife corridors to allow them to move freely across Canberra.
She added that culling around Wanniassa Hills would not stop the problem of motorists colliding with kangaroos in that area.
Parks and Conservation Service director Daniel Iglesias said the government did not want protesters entering areas where culling was taking place.
‘‘The message we want to get across is kangaroo culling will be happening in these areas and that involves the use of high-powered firearms,’’ he said.
‘‘We have a contingency for cases where we think there is protest action around and that is that we’ll immediately stop.
‘‘Our first priority is the safety of everybody: protesters, staff and contractors.’’
Mr Iglesias said the culling was necessary to keep the number of kangaroos at sustainable levels that did not have a detrimental impact on other animals and plants.
‘‘Ensuring the grasslands and woodlands are not overgrazed will protect threatened species and ecosystems, provide habitat for creatures such as ground-feeding birds, prevent excessive soil loss and maintain sustainable numbers of kangaroos.’’
He added that the ACT ‘‘had the highest area of reserve land in Australia’’ and corridors for the movement of kangaroos from the northern to southern parts of the city. Mr Iglesias said experienced marksmen would humanely cull the kangaroos, according to a strict code of practice endorsed by relevant authorities.
Rangers and security staff will patrol areas to ensure the safety of the public with signs being installed at all entry points to the reserves.