As the kangaroo cull draws to an end on Thursday night, the Government won't discuss progress, but has promised to release figures on Friday on the number of kangaroos and joeys killed over the past six weeks.
The target was 1606 kangaroos in eight nature reserves. Joeys are killed if they're left orphaned by the cull. Last year, 355 "pouch young" were killed on top of the cull.
Animal activists say they have been out every night at the five accessible reserves, protesting against the cull and looking to disrupt the four shooters.
They had succeeded in having the shoot called off one night on the Pinnacle when a protester stood on a ridgeline with a torch, Animal Liberal ACT spokeswoman Carolyn Drew said.
With the cull all but finished, there is still no progress on a trial of fertility control for kangaroos announced three months ago.
Territories Minister Shane Rattenbury said in early May that he was working on the trial with Marcus Fillinger, from animal charity Alphadog, who proposed tranquillising the kangaroos and administering a fertility-control drug. Mr Rattenbury set aside the Gungaderra nature reserve in Gungahlin.
But Mr Fillinger said despite repeated emails and even phone calls to Mr Rattenbury’s office, he had heard nothing since the kangaroo cull began.
“There’s been not one peep out of them. They’re just ignoring me," he said. “We need to progress on this. It would be a major stepping stone because habitats are being ripped away from wildlife … By them dragging the chain or by silence, it’s not going to go away.”
Mr Fillinger has been highly critical of the cull and the Government’s approach to fertility control, and has put a list of questions to Mr Rattenbury.
He wants to know results of the Government’s own fertility trials. He wants to know the management strategy for the Gungaderra reserve, and how the government will account for kangaroo numbers, and determine trial numbers. Mr Rattenbury has said it would cover 500 kangaroos.
Since the cull was given the go-shead six weeks ago, protestors and shooters have played a game of cat and mouse, with Ms Drew saying shooters had mixed up times and locations more this year and shot even at 2am or 3am to avoid the protesters.
But the impact on kangaroo numbers was clear.
"On Mount Painter and the Pinnacle where were healthy numbers of kangaroos, you'd see 30 or 40 coming through at times of the evening. Now you only see four, so it's quite devastating when you see that," she said.
"You hear the shooting. For every single shot you hear you know there's also some poor joey being decapitated at the end as well in the silence and it's often the silence that affects you as well," she said. "People in Canberra haven't realised the enormity and probably will never realise the enormity of what's gone on."
The cull opponents are holding a "memorial" on Friday outside the Legislative Assembly building. Exhausted after her night-time vigils, Ms Drew said protest numbers were thin this year, with just one person at some reserves some nights, but they were already working on a strategy for next year's cull.
"You do feel very sad, and bitter because all your attempts have been frustrated," she said. "And you don’t have the resources and money to throw at it that you need and that the Government has, so it's very much a losing battle most of the time."
The nature reserves have been closed from dusk till dawn, but will reopen on Friday.