Disappearing Kangaroo populations suggest local extinction threat
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We call on the Sunshine Coast Council to list coastal Eastern Grey Kangaroos as a ‘Species of Local Significance’ under the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014 in order to conserve this species in the region, particularly in areas undergoing urban growth.
Over 40% of eastern grey kangaroo populations were found to have declined in the Sunshine Coast region from 2000 - 2015, in arecent study from the University of the Sunshine Coast. This study found that kangaroo declines were found to be related to human population growth rates and the amount of natural area and that kangaroo populations were likely to continue to decline if projected human population growth rates continued (Brunton et al. 2018). Since then, data collected by Wildlife Rescue Sunshine Coast (WRSC) has revealed an increase of over 750% from 2016 to 2018 in Eastern Grey Kangaroo deaths, due to car strikes. At least 271 kangaroos were hit by cars during this period. Declines in kangaroo populations have also been inked to kangaroo-vehicle collisions in the Sippy Downs area (Brunton et al. 2018b).
We believe that our Eastern Grey Kangaroos should be listed as 'locally significant' as a steep decline in populations over a short period is a criterion for listing threatened species at the state level. In addition, Kangaroos in the greater Sunshine Coast area are genetically unique (part of a distinct mtDNA clade restricted to the region) and are, therefore, an important source of genetic variation in the species (Coghlan et al. 2015). Threats to the species includes urban encroachment and the rapidly decreasing available habitat, and the high incidence of road kills.
Though the term local significance is widely used, local instruments, definitions and performance outcomes do not outline the process and criteria for initiating such a measure. State Planning Policy (SPP 2016) states that Local Governments can establish environmental values that are significant for the area.
A recent Parliamentary petition 2989-18 to which Minister Dick responded on March 29, inter alia, that “In Queensland, local governments are empowered to make decisions they consider appropriate to meet the needs and views of their community”.
This means it is the responsibility of the council to make decisions consistent with the Sunshine Coast Planning Scheme 2014; the Queensland Government has merely set the planning framework. In terms of matters of local significance, it can be drawn that this is to be considered through the preparation, implementation and enforcement of planning schemes, policies and law.
The current strategy for ‘managing’ kangaroos on land approved for development is ‘self -dispersal’. This is due to the Kangaroo’s ‘Of Least Concern’ conservation status at the state and federal levels. This means that Council and developers do not have to consider kangaroos when Development Applications are being considered.
We urge the Sunshine Coast Council to initiate the process for listing Eastern Grey Kangaroos as a ‘Species of Local Significance’ as a matter of urgency in order that the species is availed protection at the local level to help preserve and sustain this iconic species for perpetuity.
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