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Roos get stay of execution

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The government has promised not to begin its cull of almost 1500 kangaroos until at least Wednesday, after a legal stoush with protesters was delayed to allow the warring parties to obtain more evidence.

The ceasefire with animal rights protesters, who have pledged to put themselves in the firing line, comes as graphic instructions were made public, detailing the correct procedures for culling.

The instructions detail how workers can kill orphaned joeys with a ''single forceful blow to the base of the skull'', if they cannot be shot.

The ACT government plans to cull 1455 eastern grey kangaroos from seven sites across the territory, the lowest number for an annual cull in years. The program is aimed at protecting various Canberran ecosystems, and minimising the impact of large kangaroo populations on other native animals and vegetation. The government issued seven licences for the shooting on Friday, and was expected to begin killing the animals on Tuesday night.

But protesters, who have consistently vowed to disrupt the cull, launched urgent legal action in the ACT Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal to temporarily prevent shooters beginning the program.

That legal action was adjourned on Friday after the tribunal found it needed more evidence on whether Animal Liberation ACT and the Australian Society for Kangaroos actually had the legal standing to apply for a temporary halting of the culling licences.


The government also said it needed more time to gather evidence to respond to the applications for interim orders made by protesters, one of which it received notice of at noon on Friday, and the other at 5pm on Thursday.

The hearing was adjourned until Wednesday morning, and the government has given undertakings not to start the cull until at least Wednesday night.

The government says protesters will need to argue their case for interim orders against each of the seven culling licences, which relate to varying kangaroo numbers and locations. The Territory and Municipal Services Directorate said on Friday the outcome of the tribunal was procedural, and had nothing to do with the science behind the cull.

Also on Friday, rules regulating the shooting of kangaroos came to light.

The rules, issued this week by Territory and Municipal Services Minister Shane Rattenbury under the Animal Welfare Act, require shooters undertaking kangaroo culls to adopt the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Non-Commercial Purposes. The code states that shooters using rifles are required to aim for the kangaroo's brain. Shooters using shotguns must aim to hit the animal in the head or the chest.

''More than one kangaroo or wallaby in a mob may be shot before the carcasses are retrieved by the shooter, provided that the shooter is certain that each kangaroo or wallaby is dead before another is targeted,'' the code says.

''Where an individual kangaroo or wallaby is injured, no further animals can be shot until all reasonable efforts have been made to locate and kill the injured animal.'' Shooters are required to avoid shooting female kangaroos and wallabies where it is obvious that they have pouch young or dependent young at foot, except in special circumstances.

Dependant joeys must be shot or killed using another method as soon as possible after the mother is killed.

''Small pouch young retrieved from dead mothers which cannot be shot can be killed with a single forceful blow to the base of the skull sufficient to destroy the functional capacity of the brain,'' the code says. As an alternative, the joeys can be stunned followed by rapid decapitation.

Kangaroo culling in the ACT is carried out during the winter months to reduce the chances that mothers will have pouch young.

Protesters have vowed to disrupt the culling operation if it goes ahead and claim to have already carried out night-time training in local reserves and identified hiding places.