Stop killing kangaroos before it's too late

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The killing of kangaroos and trade in kangaroo body parts including export of meat and skins must be halted immediately. We call upon the South Australian Government to revoke the Permit to remove or destroy kangaroos pursuant to sections 53(3), 58(3), 59 and 60J of the National Parks and Wildlife Act (SA).

Kangaroos are an iconic protected species in Australia, causing no more damage to the Australian environment than they did 100,000 years ago. The commercial killing of kangaroos will likely cause kangaroo populations to become ecologically unsustainable and lead to their extinction.

The approved killing is an attempt to remove kangaroos from the status of a protected species, re-identifying them as a commodity, a “stock” to be harvested for the benefit of commercial enterprise in the domestic and international sale of meat, body parts and skins, in conflict with the intent and purpose of the Legislative framework in force to protect and conserve them, their habitat and ecosystems. South Australian kangaroo populations are being hunted to extinction.

If permitted to continue the killing will cause kangaroo populations to become ecologically unsustainable and likely lead to extinction. The killing of kangaroos is cruel, inhumane and unwarranted.

Sustainability and Extinction

Leading scientists conclude that kangaroo populations of less than 10 kangaroos per square kilometre should not be killed or harvested because the population is likely to fall below the critical level (Hacker et al, 2004). Red kangaroos and western grey kangaroos should not be killed in South Australia under any circumstances. All South Australia’s red kangaroo and western grey kangaroo populations are presently less than 10 kangaroos per square kilometre.

If allowed to continue, the killing of kangaroos will cause kangaroo populations to become ecologically unsustainable and will lead to extinction. Already, more than half of South Australia’s red kangaroo populations and 6 out of the 14 western grey kangaroo populations would generally be considered at risk of extinction (Hacker et al, 2004).

Claims that Kangaroos Cause Damage to Pasture and Crops are False and Misleading

To achieve a Permit in South Australia to kill Protected Animals, the Government relies upon a claim that kangaroos (a protected animal) cause “damage to the environment or to crops, stock or other property” (section 51 NPWA). Applications under Freedom of Information have revealed that in South Australia no reports have been sought or prepared specifically about alleged kangaroo damage to crops, stock or other property.

Crop and pasture reports prepared by the South Australian Government, Primary Industries and Regions indicate better than average yields for the whole of South Australia. While other damage to crops and pasture is outlined in detail, the reports do not include any damage by kangaroos.

A Livestock SA submission to the Natural Resources Committee uses a figure of 25 kangaroos per square kilometre to argue that the land and landholders “cannot sustain the grazing pressure”. This figure is exaggerated. Based on 2020 population estimates, there are an average of 2.5 red kangaroos per square kilometre and an average of 3.4 western grey kangaroos per square kilometre in the South Australian harvest zones.

Commonwealth Approval under the EPBC Act to “Harvest” as an approved “Wildlife Trade Management Plan”

The Environment Protection Biodiversity and Conservation Act 1999 (Cth) (EPBC Act) objects are found at section 3, and, inter alia, provide for the protection of the environment, to promote the conservation of biodiversity.  

The South Australian Government’s killing of kangaroos for commercial export trade must be approved by the Commonwealth Minister to ensure it satisfies all criteria for commercial exploitation including export of kangaroo body parts and flesh. It must meet criteria as an “approved wildlife trade management plan for the purposes of section 303FO of the EPBC Act”.

The draft Plan of Management must ensure that “harvesting” satisfies, inter alia, the criteria of numbers, genetic diversity, humane methods and procedures (section 60 I 1. (a) to (d) NPWA SA). 

The South Australian Government did not prepare a sustainability report and one could therefore not have been made available to the Minister for the Environment (Commonwealth) prior to the approval of the SA Commercial Kangaroo Management Plan 2020-2024.

Humane Methods and Procedures

The outdated colonial mindset that sees kangaroos as “agricultural pests” influences thinking resulting in poor welfare outcomes for adult kangaroos and joeys, as joeys are cruelly bludgeoned to death in numbers more horrific and with more cruelty than the Canadian baby seal hunt.

The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes (the Code) is a national document intended to guide regulation of humane harvesting practices for the commercial kangaroo industry in Australia. Adult kangaroos must be killed instantly by a headshot to the brain. Mis-shot kangaroos are a reality. Too often adult kangaroos are shot in the jaw, blowing away the mouth, which makes eating and drinking impossible for those that survive for long periods in agonising pain before eventually starving to death.  The number of neck or body shot kangaroos, discarded by shooters, is never recorded.

Pouch joeys are required to be euthanized by decapitation or bludgeoning to death.  A joey must be bludgeoned firstly to render unconscious, then decapitated. If killing a joey through blunt force trauma, the first bludgeoning usually only stuns the animal, which means sometimes three bashings are necessary to ensure death.

Dependent young at foot flee in fright and, without their mothers, die from predation, starvation or exposure.  

No one knows how many injured adult kangaroos escape to die slow, agonising deaths, nor does anyone know how many dependent young die as a result of being collateral damage in the world’s largest mass slaughter of a land-based animal.

The killing of kangaroos is neither monitored or policed, which means any Code of Practice is meaningless.

We, the petitioners, call on the South Australian Government to immediately revoke the Permit to remove or destroy kangaroos pursuant to sections 53(3), 58(3), 59 and 60J of the National Parks and Wildlife Act (SA).