Kangaroo cull triggers 'macabre' protest plan

Protesters say they will attempt to dig up burial pits on kangaroo cull sites to expose the true nature of the government-sanctioned killings.

The exhumation of kangaroo carcasses sparked outrage during last year's cull, with the government describing it as illegal and potentially dangerous.

Protesters distributed photographs of dead kangaroos to support allegations of government impropriety.

This year's cull is expected to target 1455 eastern grey kangaroos on seven sites at nature reserves across the ACT. The operation is on hold, with the government promising not to start shooting until after the hearing of a dispute between officials and protesters in the ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal on Wednesday. Shooting could begin on Wednesday night at the earliest, should the protesters fail at the tribunal.

But, in a move the government described as ''macabre to say the least'', protesters have pledged to look for and dig up burial pits again this year.

Animal Liberation ACT spokeswoman Carolyn Drew said protesters did not like the grim task of digging up the pits, but said it was the only way to show the public what was happening.


''When you say to someone the kangaroos are being killed, the joeys are being killed humanely, like the government's line … it doesn't mean anything to people,'' she said. ''We want to show people the reality.''

She said that wildlife carers who dug up the burial pit last year were still recovering from the experience, which she described as being ''soul destroying''.

The government said its highest priority was making sure the animals were killed safely and humanely. It said it employed sharpshooters and two veterinarians - one independent and the other from the ACT government - to take part in the cull.

Officials have stepped up internal scrutiny on the operation, increasing the ''audited animals'' from a 10 per cent sample to 20 per cent.

Parks and Conservation director Daniel Iglesias said the digging up of animal carcasses was roundly criticised last year.

''What we will be doing is ensuring that we take measures to try and minimise the chance of that happening,'' Mr Iglesias said.

''I can only appeal to them to say please protest if you don't agree with what we're doing, but do it in a peaceful way.''

The issue will be back before the tribunal on Wednesday, when Animal Liberation ACT and the Australian Society for Kangaroos will argue they have the right to apply to temporarily suspend the culls. Once that barrier is overcome, the protesters need to apply for interim orders to suspend the government's seven kangaroo cull licences.

That may, as it did in 2009, further delay the culls but would not mean they were stopped permanently.

Mr Iglesias reminded the protesters that the reserves were closed to protect people's safety.


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