[ Canberra Times ]

Canberra kangaroo cull falls just short of target

Date: August 1 2013


Matthew Raggatt

Inside the annual kangaroo cull

The director in charge of the ACT's completed kangaroo cull said it had achieved its aim, despite falling about 100 short of its 1244 quota.

ACT Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said 1149 kangaroos were killed, plus 355 joeys.

"The whole purpose of this was to deliver conservation outcomes, it was not to eradicate kangaroos - kangaroos are an integral part of the ACT environment - rather it was to control overgrazing and we feel we have achieved that," Mr Iglesias told ABC radio.

"We are managing the grazing pressure - from that point of view it is a better position we are in than prior to the conservation cull."

Mr Iglesias said the grassland and woodland areas where the conservation culls were conducted now had sustainable numbers of Eastern Grey kangaroos. 

The cull was delayed after legal action from animal activists, but Mr Iglesias said there was no significant incidents during this month's shootings.

“Although the legal challenge to the cull reduced our operating window from eight weeks to only three and bad weather caused some nights to be lost, we were very close to reaching the quota of 1244 kangaroos. Due to the time constraints, we did not get a chance to undertake the cull at Mt Painter,” he said. 

"The protesters made their point of view in a peaceful way."

There were no arrests, but one person was given a handwritten warning. 

Animal Liberation ACT spokeswoman Carolyn Drew said activists had been putting their lives at risk during the past three weeks. 

"We were having to run around, and shine our torches and make noise and the rangers refused to shut the shooters down," Ms Drew told ABC.

"We did actually stall and stop the shoot on at least three nights, if not four."

Ms Drew said the protest was "more successful for ourselves as a group".

"Many of our group did things they had never done before, so they grew in confidence," she said.

Mr Iglesias said the majority of the 355 pouch joeys killed were very small and unfurred due to the timing of the cull. 

He said an independent vet and the ACT Government chief veterinary officer had audited 46 per cent of shot animals and all of these kills had been undertaken in compliance with the code of practice.

“For the first time ever we also used almost 15 per cent of the kangaroo meat to make baits to use in our wild dog and fox control programs,” he said in a statement.

The ACT Government said Callum Brae Nature Reserve, Goorooyarroo Nature Reserve (and adjacent unleased territory land), Kama Nature Reserve, Mulanggari Nature Reserve, Mt Painter Nature Reserve, Mulligans Flat Nature Reserve and The Pinnacle Nature Reserve (and adjacent unleased territory land) would re-open to the public at midday Thursday.

The cull took place in each of these areas, except Mt Painter. Mr Iglesias said there was no chance to undertake the cull there due to time constraints. 

Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury said there was ongoing land management issues in the territory with kangaroos, but options other than culling would be considered.  

"As the technology evolves, as the science evolves, government and TAMS must be open to alternative methods," Mr Rattenbury said. 

"It has been suggested that [translocation] is possible, again the technology has improved, and for there we have to look for the science for whether in fact there is any way to translocate them, and also the animal ethics of whether it is appropriate to sedate a kangaroo and move it to somewhere else."

Mr Rattenbury said significant progress had been made in fertility control drugs, but the issue was one of delivery, getting a dosage to a wild population.

"There are challenges and questions marks attached to each of [the alternatives] still," he said.