A sold-out screening of the controversial film Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story at Geelong’s Pivotonian Theatre has animal advocates hoping for an end to the commercial kangaroo industry and kangaroo culling.
Animal Justice Party Western Region leader Andy Meddick said he hoped the documentary would force all levels of government to “cease the senseless slaughter of kangaroos”.
“6.9 million kangaroos have already been slated for slaughter in 2018, with that number expected to exceed 10 million easily by year’s end. It is annually the largest mass slaughter of land based wildlife in the world,” he said.
“It has been proven by many scientific studies that kangaroos are not in competition for grazing land with either sheep or cattle as they will only eat native grasses in ordinary conditions.”
The National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes states that “animals must be killed by a method that will achieve a rapid and humane death, preferably by a shot to the brain”.
However, Mr Meddick said that “the bulk of kangaroos killed are not killed by single head shots” in reference to non-commercial culling.
“Kangaroos have very small heads, and are often mobile when shots are taken. Even if we are to assume that shots from professional shooters are 100 per cent accurate, professionals make up less than 0.01 per cent of registered shooters,” he said.
“Over 98 per cent of animals shot are hit in the neck or upper body, leaving them capable of escaping and dying from their wounds up to many days later.”
Since the film premiered in America in January, the KIAA has refuted the film’s claims that between four and 40 per cent of animals were shot in the neck or body in 2015; instead the KIAA said “of the one million kangaroos inspected by Federal Government veterinarians in 2014, only 25 were reported as not having been shot in the head”.
The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia said that, in the commercial kangaroo industry shooters were required to pass a competency test before they were permitted to shoot kangaroos and wallabies.
The National Code of Practice states that “if the kangaroo or wallaby that is shot is female then any dependent young at foot must be shot as soon as possible to avoid dispersal” but the Victorian Government does not record the number of joeys killed.
Mr Meddick said the outcomes for joeys were “appalling”.
“Hunters are required to kill in and out of pouch joeys by any of a few ‘approved’ methods, namely, for in pouch animals, slamming the head against a hard object such as a rock or utility tray, or in the case of out-of-pouch, by a single head shot,” he said.
“The reality for out-of-pouch or even partially independent joeys is that they are simply left to starve to death, as they will not leave their mother’s side, it is also deplorable that swinging a small animal and smashing its brains out is considered humane.”
To combat the number of joey deaths, the KIAA introduced a male-only policy for kangaroo shooting in 2013.
The Victorian State Government’s 2017 Victorian Kangaroo Population Survey estimated the state’s kangaroo population to be 1,442,000, but Mr Meddick said the estimate was an “illusion” and “widely inaccurate”.
“DELWP (Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning) officers simply observe the numbers in the area required, and extrapolate that figure across known habitat within that area. This is supplemented by estimates from land holders using the same theory, then a percentage is added to account for increases from breeding,” he said.
“This increase is also wildly inaccurate because it allows for every female in a group to birth one joey in a 12-month period, except female kangaroos only birth one joey at a minimum 18 months.”
The Kangaroo Industry Association of Australia stated that 10-20 per cent of the kangaroo population could be killed for the Australian commercial industry annually and four kangaroo species and two wallaby species could be legally killed in Australia with an Authority to Control Wildlife permit issued by DELWP.
Collectively, 190,240 kangaroos and wallabies were authorised for control in Victoria in 2017 and 108 permits were granted to kill black wallabies; 2732 for eastern grey kangaroos, 10 for red kangaroos, 17 for red-necked wallabies and 99 for western grey kangaroos.
The KIAA said the kangaroo industry contributed more than $200 million to Australia’s economy annually and generated 4000 jobs.
The Victorian Shooters Fishers and Farmers Party did not respond to Dscribe’s questions.