Growing Push to Save Kangaroos on Death Row

April 7, 2021 Updated: April 7, 2021

Victoria’s plan to cull 17,250 kangaroos after population numbers grew by 40 percent has led environmental groups to fear that it could eradicate the animals in Victoria.

The cull has also placed agricultural and environmentalist groups at odds with the farmers regarding kangaroos’ mobs as agricultural pests.

Victorian orchard owner Gary Katerelos said kangaroos are a nuisance to farmers on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria and a threat to his livelihood.

“Early shoots from grapevines are eaten; apples are taken off trees and discarded after a few bites,” Katerelos told Southern Peninsula News. “Trees are damaged as they attempt to pull fruit from them, and they can strip a pear tree of most fruit in a week,” he added.

However, many environmentalists argue that the beloved Australian marsupial ought to be protected, with animal rights groups pushing Victorian lawmakers for the wild population of eastern grey kangaroos on the Mornington Peninsula to be saved from being culled.

Kangaroo
The Kangaroo is the only large animal that hops to get from place to place. (Fred J. Eckert)

Peter Hyland, president of the Australian Wildlife Protection Council (APWC), wrote in an article for the council’s website in November 2020 that despite dire environmental conditions, including vast scale bushfires, the Victorian state government is still allowing the killing of Australia’s wildlife in Victoria.

“Permits to kill Kangaroos on a very large scale have been issued across Victoria’s regions (including Central Victoria), and populations are declining rapidly, region by region, as remaining populations are targeted by commercial and non-commercial shooting activities”, Hyland said.

“As is the case for the rest of Australia, the Victorian Government Kangaroo population estimates are exaggerated,” he said

“This means that commercial quotas are most often not met (because the Kangaroos are not there in the numbers stated) and in at least one case in Victoria, and for one species of Kangaroo (it is now coming close to being more than one species), the number of permits being issued and the number of animals covered by these permits is likely to exceed their entire state population for that species.”

Nevertheless, the Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP) considers controlling kangaroo numbers humane and ecologically sustainable, saying their numbers have significantly risen in recent years.

The latest statistics show the state’s eastern grey kangaroo numbers had increased by 40 percent since 2018, according to Arthur Rylah Institute for Environmental Research.

The Victorian Farmers Federation also considers kangaroos an “invasive animal”, and the group continued to “lobby for increased harvest quotas for overabundant populations of kangaroos” in its 2019-2020 annual report (pdf).

Federation’s president Emma Germano said that the high kangaroo numbers impacted the agriculture sector, preventing the two from co-existing sustainably.

“People have to understand in some areas kangaroos are in plague proportions,” she told The Age.