In many parts of Australia, the government has been implementing a policies in which kangaroo populations are culled (killed) to stop them from over-populating, damaging Australia's ecosystem and causing a host of other problems. In recent years protests over these government programs has become particularly acute. As a result, plans to slaughter 400 kangaroos living on an abandoned military site near the capital of Australia were put on hold, among a number of other proposed culling projects that have been delayed or stopped by protests. With Kangaroo population problems persisting, it appears that that the government will continue to press for cullings and that protesters will still actively oppose these efforts. The debate appears set to continue well into the future as to whether Kangaroo cullings are appropriate.
The questions that are raised by this issue are many fold. First, what is the extent of the damage that Kangaroos pose to various Australian habitats? Are they threatening to bring habitats, ecosystems, and species to the brink of extinction? How important is it to Australia to prevent this from occurring? Have Kangaroos been consuming massive quantities of human crops and great cost to Australian farmers? Have Kangaroos been posing a general hazard to populated areas? Are Kangaroo attacks on humans a frequent occurrence? Does Kangaroo habitat destruction lead to soil erosions that significantly threaten local water supplies? Are car accidents involving Kangaroo frequent? What is the extent of the costs? Can culling be done humanely? Is it a more humane alternative to letting Kangaroo populations expand to the point of at which resources are so depleted that Kangaroos starve to death and their populations crash? Is shooting Kangaroos in the head a humane options among the alternatives? How does it compare to dart euthanasia of Kangaroos? Are there alternatives that need to be considered before culling Kangaroos, such as the translocation of Kangaroo populations to other habitats in Australia, sterilization of Kangaroos, and artificially feeding them? What are the effects of Kangaroo cullings on Australia's sense of the Kangaroo as a national icon? Do cullings negatively affect the tourism industry? Do Kangaroo cullings threaten to make Australia appear hypocritical, in light of the fact that it so vocally opposes Japanese whaling. Do cullings threaten aboriginal culture and historical relations with the Kangaroo?
Moving Kangaroos would resolve the issue of habitat and species destruction. The main justification for the culling of Kangaroos is that they are overpopulating specific areas, which strains the ecosystem of that area and kills species residing there. Why not simply move a portion of the Kangaroo population in an area somewhere else?
Crops: Are Kangaroos significantly damaging crops?
Culling Kangaroo will reduce their consumption of Australian crops. Kangaroos are breeding quickly and faster than they are dying. They are over-populating, and are running out of food in their natural habitats. This means that they are frequently resorting to Australian crops as a means of sustenance. Culling Kangaroo populations will decrease the resource depletion occurring in their natural habitats, will enable Kangaroos to survive on their natural habits alone and sustainably, and will decrease the necessity of Kangaroos to consume crops as a means of survival. This will save farmers crops, increase their productivity and returns, and generally increase GDP across Australia.
Kangaroo destruction of habitats is causing soil erosion that damages crops. Soil erosion in the areas where Kangaroos are grazing leads to problems on farms. Typically, it causes undesirable runoff into farm lands.
Kangaroos are not terrorizing wheat crops.SaveTheKangroo.com - "Other justifications for the kill are that kangaroos are pests who destroy wheat crops and compete with livestock for grazing. The largest study of kangaroos ever conducted, carried out by the University of New South Wales, found that the presence of kangaroos has no negative effects on sheep farms whatsoever. A study carried out by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation found that 95 per cent of wheat crops are never visited by kangaroos and furthermore, Gordon Grigg, one of the most avid supporters of kangaroo slaughter and author of Commercial Harvesting of Kangaroos in Australia, the kangaroo industry’s bible, recently stated that kangaroos’ grazing requirements may have been over-estimated by as much as 500 per cent."
Moving Kangaroos would address crop destructions in specific areas. If Kangaroos are eating crops in specific areas, why not move them to other habitats that are capable of housing them and that are not near crops? This is an adequate solution to crop destructions, and avoids the less humane action of culling them.
Cost: Are the expensive costs involved in culling worth it?
In society: Is Kangaroo over-population a problem to Australian society in general?
Kangaroos sometimes attack people, particularly when aggravated by over-population. Kangaroos attack people in Australia on a statistically regular basis. Because Kangaroo are actually stronger and more powerful than humans, they are both willing to engage in a fight and able to inflict crippling damage and even death. Because over-population increases instances of encounters between Kangaroos and humans, mainly because habit-depletion can force Kangaroo to seek food in urban areas or on farmlands, over-population can actually increase the risk posed by Kangaroos to humans. As such, a culling is capable of reducing the risk Kangaroos pose to humans.
Kangaroos are the cause of costly car accidents Kangaroos often run in front of cars. Not only do they get hit and die, but they cause damage to the vehicle. Kangaroos getting hit by cars is a regular occurrence in rural areas of Australia; where the cull is being planned to take place.
Argument: Kangaroo shootings can jeopardize the public safety Kangaroo culling typically take the form of rifle shootings of Kangaroos. If this is taking place in crowded local areas, it can potentially jeopardize the public safety. There is also concern among citizens of Australia that their pets will be put at risk, particularly as pets roam roads and lands, sometimes amidst Kangaroos.
Humaneness: Could the culling of Kangaroos be done humanely?
A Kangaroo culling would humanely prevent a population crash Kangaroos are breeding quickly and faster than they are dying. They are over-populating, and are running out of food. The population is getting higher and higher while resources and room for growth gets lower and lower. Such unsustainable growth could lead to the sudden and precipitous decline of Kangaroo populations across the country. Population crashes like this are typical following prolonged periods of resource-depletion. To allow such a crash to occur would be inhumane. The only way to avoid it is by stabilizing Kangaroo population growth through a culling. Such action is humane, in the long-run, to Kangaroos.
The RSPCA's support for a culling hints that it is in the long-term interests of Kangaroos. The RSPCA is the Royal Society for the Protection of Cruelty to Animals. This organization always looks into the best interest of animals. If the RSPCA are for the cull, obviously there must be a reason, and that reason is that roos are over-populating, causing problems and are running out of resources.
The meat and skin of culled Kangaroos will not be wasted. The meat would be utilized for human consumption and pet food, and the pelts for soft toys and other items. These Kangaroos will not simply be killed and wasted. Their lives, meat, and pelts will be put to a use, and this will give meaning to the lives of these kangaroos, making the culling, at least, more humane than if these resources were simply thrown away.
Kangaroo shooting may be preferable to culling by dart-euthanasia Kangaroo culling by darts for sedation and then with poison to euthanize Kangaroos can actually lead to severe distress, pain, and suffering among individual Kangaroos and groups of Kangaroos. First, due to the lower accuracy of darts, a sharp shooter must be much closer with darts than with bullets, which often distresses Kangaroo herds. Second, darts do not kill Kangaroos immediately, nor do they immediately sedate them, creating the potential for the thrashing around of a Kangaroo which results in their injury, suffering, and the general distress of neighboring Kangaroos. Third, a human has to promptly approach the sedated Kangaroo and perform the euthanasia, which distresses and disturbs the Kangaroo herd, often resulting in their thrashing around in distress. If culling is seen as necessary, then shooting Kangaroo is probably preferable to darting and euthanizing them.
The Code of Practice in the ACT helps ensures culls are humane. This is a set of government guidelines that regulates such things as the accuracy of sharpshooters that kill Kangaroos, ensuring that direct shots to the head occur and result in the instantaneous, painless death of Kangaroos.
Cullings of any kind are cruel to animals. Murder is cruel, always. Kangaroos have a mind, they feel pain, they don't want to die. By culling them, we would be going against the perfectly reasonable wish and natural impulse of these animals. This is cruel.
Culling kangaroos is inhumane when there are more humane alternatives. There seem to be good alternatives to a culling that would be a more humane alternative to a culling. One alternative is to move Kangaroos from effected areas to other areas that can easily accommodate them. Some argue that this would be inhumane because it would traumatize Kangaroo. But, it cannot be argued that culling Kangaroo is a more fair and humane option for kangaroo than moving them. The ability of Kangaroo to continue living is obviously better and more humane than merely traumatizing them.
Is is also possible for efforts to be taken to lower the breeding of Kangaroos. If over-population is the problem, perhaps one longer-term response would be to take certain efforts to stem the degree of breeding among Kangaroos. This could take the form of "tying the tubes" of both female and male kangaroo genitalia. While this may be inhumane on one level, again it is certainly a more humane option as compared to the culling of Kangaroo. Creating a physical change in Kangaroo is more humane than killing them outright.
The commercial slaughter of Kangaroo for their meat and leather is unethical. The sale of Australian-Kangaroo Adidas shoes was actually banned in California, USA for 37 years, as well as some other places around the world. These bans are based in a strong case for objecting to the commercial killing of Kangaroos for their meat and for their pelts. The case centers on the notion that Kangaroos are an exceptionally intelligent animal, with a certain historical kinship to humans, that deserve exceptional human compassion.
Darting/euthanasia: Is darting and euthanizing Kangaroo humane?
Kangaroos can be culled humanely through sedation then euthanasia Cullings can involve dart sedation first, and then euthanasia with lethal injection. Of the many ways to cull an overpopulated animal population, this is the most humane, subjecting Kangaroos to very little physical violence and destructive force. Instead of firing a bullet through the head of a Kangaroo, a gruesome prospect, euthanasia involves darting the animal and than peacefully euthanizing it. By subjecting the Kangaroo to far less physical trauma, Euthanasia is a far more dignified and thus humane process. While the question of the level of pain between cullings that involve shooting Kangaroo and cullings that involve dart/euthanasia can be debated, the question of the dignity of the processes is far less debatable. Blowing a hole through a Kangaroos head is obviously much more violent and less dignified than a dart entering their side and than injecting a poison into them, which keeps the Kangaroo's body fully intact.
Kangaroo culling by dart-euthanasia can be inhumane Kangaroo culling by darts for sedation and then with poison to euthanize Kangaroos can actually lead to severe distress, pain, and suffering among individual Kangaroos and groups of Kangaroos. First, due to the lower accuracy of darts, a sharp shooter must be much closer with darts than with bullets, which often disturbs the Kangaroo herd. Second, darts do not kill Kangaroos immediately, nor do they immediately sedate them, creating the potential for the thrashing around of a Kangaroo which results in their injury, suffering, and the general distress of neighboring Kangaroos. Third, a human has to promptly approach the sedated Kangaroo and perform the euthanasia, which distresses and disturbs the Kangaroo herd, often resulting in their thrashing around in distress. This argument need not be seen as a justification of culling Kangaroos by shooting them, but can be read to mean that both shooting and dart/euthanizing Kangaroo populations are inhumane, and so neither should be pursued.
Translocation: Is translocating Kangaroos a poor alternative to culling them?
The translocation of Kangaroos threatens the integrity of their new habitat Introducing any new population into an environment always entails risks to that environment. In the case of Kangaroos, the risk is multifaceted. First, Kangaroos may simply overeat and destroy their new host environment. Second, Kangaroos can carry diseases into their new habitat, which may prove equally devastating.
Translocation often places Kangaroos in a threatening environment Translocation often thrust Kangaroos into a new environment in which new predators exist and in which the vegetation and diet is unfamiliar to them. This can lead great anxiety and certainly starvation and death of kangaroos. In the end, therefore, it may not save any additional Kangaroos - as compared to culling - and it might also be equally or even more inhumane as culling them in the first place.
Moving massive numbers of Kangaroos is an expensive project. Herding Kangaroo herds into trucks is not easy, particularly when it involves thousands of Kangaroos. Such a project would require dozens of vehicles and hundreds of government personnel. It is a major project that is obviously much more costly than simply culling Kangaroo.
Kangaroos should just be moved, not culled. The main justification for the culling of Kangaroos is that they are overpopulating specific areas, which strains the ecosystem of that area or simply concentrates difficulties for local human populations. Why not simply move a portion of the Kangaroo population to an area somewhere else? This would solve both problems.
Translocating Kangaroos is not too difficult or impractical. Given the size of Australia and range of wildlife and habitats to choose from, translocation can be achieved relatively easily. While it is true that care must be taken to pick the right environments for Kangaroos, this can be continually planned for with a running list of prospective areas into which Kangaroos can be moved. The natural habitats and conditions for the varieties of Kangaroos present in Australia are well documented, and so are the matching characteristics of habitats that don't currently have substantial Kangaroo populations. Connecting the dots should not be that difficult.
Sterilization: Is sterilization of Kangaroos an inadequate alternative?
Sterilization is not an effective response to existing Kangaroo over-populationEmeritus Professor Gordon Grigg - University of Queensland. "Kangaroos on defence lands - another view". March 18th, 2008 - "Sterilisation has also been suggested, and that is worth considering proactively, when a population is small, in order to head off the problem before it arises. Sterilisation is a waste of time once the population is large enough to be causing land degradation, because the sterilised individuals will still be there continuing to feed for years to come. Perhaps some selective sterilisation would be worth considering in Canberra after the culling has reduced the numbers sufficiently." Without culling, sterilization is ineffective to help prevent the problem kangaroos pose in Australia.
There are experimental sterilization vaccines that can be used.Kangaroo Culling on Defence lands – Fact Sheet" - "Defence is implementing an experimental form of fertility control at the fenced Belconnen Naval Transmitter Station, based on research by a partnership involving the University of Newcastle and ACT Parks, Conservation and Lands. The research is aimed at developing a species-specific, orally delivered immunocontraceptive vaccine for eastern grey kangaroos. The vaccine is expected to provide sterility for at least three years." Sterilizing kangaroos is the most humane way to curb population growth.
Feeding them: Would artificially feeding Kangaroos be an inadequate alternative to a cull?
Australia has the worst wildlife record in the world.
Artifically feeding a signature animal of Australia only adds to Australia's poor track record. Controlling the food of kangaroos only undermines the theory of natural selection that states that only the most fit will survive. When humans interfere with this theory, the balance of the environment is disturbed.
Australian identity: Is it wrong to kill an animal that has become part of Australia's identity?
Australia's connection with the Kangaroo will not be weakened by a modest culling. The proposal is not to eradicate Kangaroo populations. It is, rather, to make the Kangaroo population in Australia manageable. The idea is to ensure that the Kangaroo can co-exist in Australia sustainably. This is consistent with Australia's national identity connection with the Kangaroo.
National symbols are not as important as national interests of sustainable Kangaroo populations. While national symbols have value, they are not absolutes. They should not get in the way of reasonable governmental actions that uphold the national interests of the country (a sustainable Kangaroo population). Indeed, the national interests of a country are indeed more important than upholding national symbols.
Kangaroos are part of Australia's identity. In Australia, the kangaroo is part of their identity. The animal is on the coat of arms, 50c coin and is native to Australia. People from all around the world associate Australia with kangaroos. It is, subsequently, wrong to kill kangaroos. It would kill part of Australia's identity and culture. You can't do that!
Culling Kangaroo tarnishes the image of Australia around the world. The international response to the proposal to cull Kangaroo populations in Australia has been met by significant international revulsion. This revulsion translates to the tarnishing of Australia's image and identity in the world.
Tourism: Can a culling of Kangaroos avoid damaging tourism?
Kangaroo cullings will not be substantial enough to damage the tourism industry. Kangaroo cullings would not so massively diminish Kangaroo populations that there would be too few kangaroos for tourists to view. Rather, it would bring the Kangaroo population down from "over-population" to a more regular population size. Such a regular population size cannot be seen as a problem for the tourism industry.
Kangaroo culling damages the tourism industry Tourists come to Australia, in large part, to see the Kangaroos there. Culling kangaroos would damage this industry by reducing the number of Kangaroos to see. It would also damage the image of Australia, which will more broadly damage tourism to the country.
Japanese whaling: Could a cull avoid undermining the case against Japanese whaling?
Kangaroo culling to fight overpopulation cannot be compared with whaling Japan and other whalers are typically killing a scarce population of whales, that has only recently emerged from the threatened species status. The killing of whales is for "scientific purposes" and for their meat. The problem is, first, that whales are scarce worldwide, making each additional death of these animals marginally worse than the death of a Kangaroo that is culled because of overpopulation. Second, there is a difference between opting to kill whales for "scientific purposes" and for commercial sales of their meat, and being forced to kill Kangaroo because they are overpopulating a country. This is why Australian Agriculture Minister Tony Burke calls these "different circumstances."
Kangaroo culling undermines Australia's case against Japanese whaling Australia is active in opposing Japanese whaling, particularly in the southern oceans around Antarctica. Japan, in light of Australia's proposed Kangaroo culling, has criticized Australia as being hypocritical. Indeed, if Australia opposes the killing of one mammal by Japan, how can it turn around and institute a government run culling of another mammal on its own lands? Isn't this hypocritical?
Aborigines: Would a culling be consistent with aboriginal interests?
In this case, the aboriginal interest must be placed on the back burner.
"Farmers have a very different view. They say parts of Australia are in the grip of a 'roo plague after an "explosion" in numbers. Jonathan McEwen, the chief executive of the New South Wales Farmers' Association, says the state has seen its population of these unique marsupials leap from eight-million to over 13 million in just one year . . . An organised campaign of slaughter, says Jonathan McEwen, is the only way to help farmers and stop the kangaroos breeding themselves out of existence." The interests of modern society unfortunately must come first.
Kangaroos have been a part of Native Aboriginal culture for thousands of years. Kangaroos are native to Ausralia and special to Aborigines. Aboriginal Australians are totally opposed to the cull and have protested to the point that they are camping on the proposed culling site. Aboriginals cannot take a loss like this and really, Europeans invaded their land and now they are trying to kill the animals native to Aboriginal country. That is not the way white Australians should respect the people whose land they took over.
Consuming culled meat: Once the kangaroos are culled, should we eat their meat?
Although it would be better not to kill them, once they are dead they might as well be eaten. That way another animal will be saved as people will eat kangaroos instead of them.
"Many consumers around the world are doing the kangaroo population a big favour by buying the products," [McEwan] says, "because that market enables a proper commercial culling to ensure the on-going survival of a sustainable number of kangaroos." It is best for the economy to use (and sell) all parts of the kangaroo.
After killing kangaroos inhumanely, it is unfair and disrespectful to the poor animal.
Dr Greg Baxter is a Senior lecturer in Natural and Rural Systems Management at the University of Queensland.
Dr Paul Hopwood is from The University of Sydney`s School of Veterinary Science and is an advisor to Commonwealth and State governments on fauna management policy and to community groups on animal activism/animal welfare issues.
Peter Garrett, now environment minister of Australia, is in favor of a cull.