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Argument: Kangaroos are ruining the habitat of rare lizards and other species

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Supporting quotes

  • Dr Graeme Coulson, a senior lecturer in the Department of Zoology at the University of Melbourne and an expert in the ecology and management of kangaroo populations. October 2007 - "The site we were asked to review was a decommissioned defence site with known rare and endangered plants and animals including a native herb and the striped legless lizards. The Department of Defence has an obligation to protect the biodiversity of the area."
  • Professor Arthur Georges - Institute for Applied Ecology at the University of Canberra. Kangaroos on defence lands: Paralysis in the face of crisis. March 17th, 2008 - "The Department of Defence is one of the largest landholders in Australia, and takes its responsibilities for conservation on its lands seriously. Indeed, we can thank them for the very existence of those special places such as Booderee National Park. Some of our best remnants of lowland native grasslands are on Defence lands, but they have been reduced to dust by over-grazing by kangaroos. These grasslands are now denied the opportunity to recover following our recent rains. Until the construction of a fence at great public expense, the endangered species in these grasslands at Majura faced decimation. At the Belconnen Naval Site, the kangaroo population and its grassland food resource at Belconnen faces imminent collapse, with 500 kangaroos occupying an area more suited to supporting 100, and that population grows each year. The problem of overgrazing of our native grasslands on these Defence lands is now urgent and requires an immediate response.
The decision on whether to cull or not to cull kangaroos is a difficult one, and the proposed cull in the ACT is now attracting national and international attention. However, we should demand that Defence acknowledge the duty of care the ACT community has over its flora and fauna, whether or not they be on public or private lands, and the processes the government and community groups such as the RSPCA have in place for making decisions on what needs to be done. Defence needs to draw upon the best available qualified expertise for advice, to seek the necessary approvals to act in a way that is consistent with established codes of practice, and to take the necessary action. The advice has been sought and provided, the way forward is clear, and the approvals are in place. But there is no action.
What we have seen instead is the commissioning of a proposal from a group of animal welfare advocates who, notwithstanding their role and the very valuable work they do in the care and rehabilitation of animals, are struggling to provide advice on a scope well beyond their expertise. They are advocating translocation of surplus kangaroos from the Belconnen site to NSW, an ongoing commitment to an approach that is unproven for the numbers of kangaroos involved. They formerly advocated that we do nothing at all at the Majura site. And Defence is listening! We have seen a delay of six months beyond the last Spring and early Summer window of opportunity while Defence “explores all options as part of longer term strategy”. This can only be regarded as grossly irresponsible.
Where is that clarity of purpose, that decisiveness, that focus on outcomes that is the hallmark of Defence? The fencing of Majura grassland to exclude kangaroos is a welcome reprieve, but not part of a long term solution for these grasslands which rely upon some measure of kangaroo grazing to maintain diversity. The decision to take action at the Belconnen Naval Site (culling) is also welcome, as the issues at this fully-fenced site are more complex. Those with an interest in the conservation of our remnant native grasslands and the endangered species they support hope Defence has the resolve to act."
  • Professor Hugh Possingham is a mathematical ecologist, Federation Fellow and the Director of the Ecology Centre at the University of Queensland and the Applied Environmental Decision Analysis Centre. - "Australia has lost or reduced the number of large predators in many areas. This is common across much of the world where people come in contact with large predators, reduce the numbers of those predators, and cease being a predator themselves. In these situations some herbivores breed beyond the capacity of the environment to sustain them. They can have a serious negative impact on biodiversity through over-grazing and habitat degradation. The solution that is best for the welfare of the animals concerned, and the environment, is invariably a humane cull."[1]
Natural Temperate Grassland has been described as the most endangered vegetation type in Australia, and the fragments remaining on the two sites contain many threatened species, including Golden Sun Moth, Grassland Earless Dragon, Striped Legless Lizard, Perunga Grasshopper, and Ginninderra Peppercress. While Eastern Grey Kangaroos are abundant and increasing in the ACT, these rare and declining endangered species are faced with extinction if threats, including overgrazing, are not managed. The heavy grazing at Majura has also exacerbated weed spread, another threat to the endangered grassland community."

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