Canberra: Australia will launch a mass culling of a million Kangaroos this year as the country in an effort to protect endangered grasslands and wildlife.
Wildlife groups have criticised the plans and warned that the illegal killing of the creatures by farmers and hunters, combined with the government-sanctioned cull, could see their numbers rapidly deplete.
An Office of Environment and Heritage spokesperson for the New South Wales government insisted the quotas were “sustainable in the long term”.
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But Brad Smith, secretary of the Upper Hunter Valley Wildlife Aid group, told The Independent that he feared kangaroos could soon become extinct if the level of culling continues.
“If you take into account the numbers of kangaroos shot each year and the numbers hit and killed by cars, it’s running into millions and millions per year,” he said.
Australia’s national parks allocate “tags” to property owners who wish to cull kangaroos on their land, which they are then required to attach to any kangaroo they shoot as a way to mark that it was a legal kangaroo shooting.
“A person who wants ’roos culled from their property has to contact the national parks, who will then give them a tag for every kangaroo they are allowed to shoot. But that very rarely happens, not nearly enough,” he added.
Around 160 joeys are rescued by Upper Hunter Valley Wildlife Aid each year from their dead mothers’ pouches
Upper Hunter Valley Wildlife Aid works specifically to rescue and rehabilitate injured or orphaned kangaroos and other animals, and Mr Smith and his wife are currently caring for 13 joeys in their home. The group rescues around 160 orphaned joeys each year and receives around 2,000 calls during that time from people who have found the young creatures in need of rescuing.
Mr Smith explained that they are rescued in “all sorts of situations”, including where their mothers have been hit by cars and caught in fences — as well as after they have been shot dead.
Mr Smith said he believed around 60 per cent of joeys born in Australia today do not reach adulthood, with most deaths caused by human actions.
Official statistics show that more than 1.5 million kangaroos were killed in 2015, and while the figures for 2016 are not yet available, it is estimated to be in a similar region. But Mr Smith believes the true numbers are higher.
Mr Smith says around 60 per cent of joeys born in Australia today do not reach adulthood, with most deaths caused by human action. “Who knows what’s going to happen in the future? They may become extinct. They do breed like flies, but as I said only 40 per cent get to adulthood, and as populations in towns grow, the kangaroos are also losing their habitat, which is only putting them at more risk of being killed.”