University of Technology, Sydney


Sustainability and Enforcement

In the fairly recent NSW case of Morris v DECC,1 a commmercial shooter submitted that he had been pressured by landholders to shoot grey kangaroos although his licence was to shoot red kangaroos. His lawyer submitted that this was common. Sheahan J made a series of comments which provide some insight into the need for shooters to abide by their licence conditions to ensure the sustainability of the killing. These comments were:

  • It was a random audit/inspection by NPWS officers which uncovered these offences, which are universally regarded as almost impossible to detect.
  • ...the entire system of regulation depends upon compliance with the licensing regime.
  • Sustainability of the species is a key objective of public policy and depends on kills occurring within the framework of commercial harvesting.
  • The industry is essentially self regulated.

In relation to the defendant's actions, Sheahan J stated:

  • Mr Morris has held a trapper's licence since 1995, but feels pressured to comply with the stipulations of the farmers or "cockies" who retain him, as to how he should cull the kangaroo population. Clearly those demands frequently conflict with the conditions of his licence, with licences being specific to various species and to zones. He was shooting on this occasion in zone 7 while he had grey kangaroo tags for zone 8.2

Thomsen and Davies have written that shooters in South Australia regularly harvest from properties which they perceive to have the greatest kangaroo density and simply attach tags that have been issued for another property.3 Thomsen and Davies argue that this practice occurs so that harvesters may 'maintain good relationships with landholders and ensure continued access to land and to quota for their harvest activities.'4

The research of Thomsen and Davies suggests that there may be widespread breaches of the law in South Australia by shooters (and landholders) through killing kangaroos from areas that are not provided for in their licences. The case of Morris v DECC also indicates that shooters may be killing kangaroos of species that are different to those provided on their licence.

Further research is required to determine the full impacts of these practices and the full extent of these practices however it is clear that they challenge current ideas about the sustainability of kangaroo killing.

Img 0860 David   Female Red Kangaroo With Joey In Pouch At Fowlers Gap


1. Morris v Department of Environment and Climate Change [2008] NSWLEC 309.

2. At [9].

3. D.A. Thomsen and J Davies, 'Rules, norms and strategies of kangaroo harvest' (2008) 14 Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 123, 128.

4. D.A. Thomsen and J Davies, 'Rules, norms and strategies of kangaroo harvest' (2008) 14 Australasian Journal of Environmental Management 123, 129.