ACT News

Save
Print

Spend on kangaroo contraceptive unlikely to end culling in Canberra

Despite $600,000 and two years of work ACT authorities are doubtful contraceptive kangaroo management will put an end to culling.

Conservator for Flora and Fauna Annie Lane confirmed a 2017 cull targeting Eastern Grey kangaroos would begin before July. 

But she raised doubts drug-darting kangaroos with GonaCon contraceptive would be an adequate population management solution anytime soon. 

The Environment directorate published a report following six weeks of consultation on the controlled native species management plan for the Easter Grey Kangaroo.

It attracted 41 submissions, 31 of which opposed the plan and 10 that supported it.

Criticism focused on whether the was a scientific basis for culling, with many submissions raising concerns about killing pouch young, humane shooting practices and the policies which prevented kangaroo from being hospitalised, rehabilitated or relocated.

Advertisement

Dr Lane said opposition to the cull was "to be expected."

"There is opposition to kangaroo culling every year and I think there probably always will be. It is quite an emotive and sensitive issue," she said.

She countered claims cull had no basis by stating research had demonstrated large numbers of kangaroos could adversely impact the environment and rural lands, adding the ACT region had dense kangaroo population.

Despite significant investment roo fertility trials and the development of dart-delivery which dye-marked kangaroos treated with contraceptive GonaCon, Dr Lane doubted the program would put an end to future annual culls.

"We'd have to weigh up the cost and benefits of it and it wouldn't be the solution to the kangaroo culling," she said.

"If we decide it is a good way to go and we use it in those sites then certainly the numbers at those sites would reduce." 

An estimated $600,000 has been spent treating 145 female kangaroos with GonaCon, 81 administered by hand along with 10 placebo doses and 54 animals by dart. 

Results of the dart delivery trial which began in July 2016 will be available in mid-2017.

In response to concerns about animal welfare Dr Lane cited the Hampton and Forsyth study of the ACT's 2015 cull where wounding rates were zero over five nights, 98 per cent of deaths were instant and the median time to death was 12 seconds for animals not killed instantly.

Holding the cull between March and July aimed to reduce the number of pouch young, which if found during the cull are enthanased "with force sufficient to crush the skull."

Dr Lane said the process undertaken was undertaken nation-wide and in line with the national code of practice for non-commerical kangaroo kills.

The six week consultation process led to only minor amendments to the government's final species management plan.

"I would say that there are no significant changes," Dr Lane said.

Detail was added about fencing, animal welfare and auditing of the culls and that other factors can also influence grassy ecosystems.

Authorities are still determining the sites and the numbers of kangaroos to be culled before the end of July, but early indications are high grass growth might mean cull numbers might be less than in prior years.