The prescribed method for killing kangaroos is with a shot to the brain. Kangaroos are killed in the field and the objective is to achieve an instantaneous death. However, there are two key welfare issues with the commercial killing of kangaroos.
Firstly, every year 855,000 dependent young die as a waste product of the commercial kill. This would be unacceptable in the livestock industry. There is currently no routine field auditing of compliance with the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos (Commercial Purposes and termed the “Code”) into the manner of killing of pouch young or to the fate of dependent young. Ecological data suggests the young are highly unlikely to survive without their mothers and will die of starvation, dehydration, exposure or predation.
Secondly, field data suggests that anywhere from 120,000 to over a million kangaroos are miss-shot and processed annually. It is unknown how many are left behind. There is virtually no monitoring of killing in the field and given the field conditions of the killing it impossible to do so.
The kangaroo industry is regulated by a National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes. The Code mandates the humane shooting of kangaroos and the disposal of young that are with females. It also requires that shooters undergo a brief marksmanship course before obtaining a shooter's licence. However, there are a number of problems with the monitoring and enforcement of the Code. Firstly, there is no auditing except spot checks of carcasses brought to refrigerated containers (chillers). Secondly, there is no commercial incentive to pursue body shot kangaroos and ensure that they are dead. It is unknown how many injured kangaroos animals are left to die. For more information on the enforcement of the code of practice please visit our publications page.
Although kangaroos are largely perceived as pests in the rangelands current research does not indicate that they are overabundant in the landscape. The estimated annual costs incurred by farmers due to kangaroos is placed at AUS $44 Million. This is markedly lower than previously estimated at over $200 M due to long-term research showing that there is minimal loss in pastoral property productivity due to competition between livestock and kangaroos for resources.
In recent years the commercial killing of kangaroos has been considered to be environmentally friendly due to the perception that there are too many kangaroos and they can replace livestock in the landscape. There is no convincing data to support claims of over abundance. Moreover, kangaroos are mostly shot by shooters in a separate activity to the livestock industry, and we have not observed convincing evidence that replacement is likely to occur in the future. Finally, consideration of the full environmental/ecological costs of the industry has not been properly canvassed.
THINKK is an independent think tank established at the University of Technology Sydney. THINKK brings together a team of experienced researchers with expertise in macropod ecology, sustainability, animal welfare, law and policy and Indigenous rights. Together, these researchers have over 50 years of collective experience in macropod ecology and have published many papers in peer review journals and other publications.
THINKK has been established by a generous donation of the Sherman Group and is supported by Voiceless, the animal protection institute. THINKK has attracted additional financial support since its inception including the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA), Clover Moore Salary Trust and the Albert George and Nancy Caroline Youngman Trust. THINKK openly discloses its sources of funding.
THINKK maintains its independence by seeking the highest level of quality in its research, by publishing the results of its research and submitting research findings for publishing in peer reviewed journals.
Part of THINKK's mission is to explore non-lethal management methods that are consistent with ecology, animal welfare, human health and ethics. We have identified a research gap in this area as most of the research to date has focused on the best ways to kill kangaroos. There is an increasing popular demand for non-lethal methods of managing kangaroo populations. This demand comes from the international community, the Australian public and even stakeholders such as local councils and landholders.
THINKK is well placed to respond to this demand particularly through being situated at the University of Technology, Sydney. UTS clients include government, industry and community organisations. If you are interested in engaging THINKK to research, create and implement sustainable strategies and operations for non-lethal management of kangaroos, please contact us.