Graziers want more kangaroos to be commercially harvested in a bid to reduce the impact of drought and improve animal and farmer welfare.
The Pastoralists’ Association of West Darling argues large numbers of kangaroos across the far west of NSW have decimated pastures and risk contaminating water supplies.
“There are hundreds, if not thousands of dead kangaroos around,” president and Broken Hill grazier Lachlan Gall said.
“But for some reason it seems to be acceptable that society is prepared for Mother Nature to be the principal population controller for our native animals.
“From the perspective of a livestock manager, it is completely unacceptable to be letting the animals suffer in the way that these kangaroos are in this current dry spell.”
Kangaroos getting stuck in boggy dams
Mr Gall said graziers had grown tired of regularly removing kangaroo carcasses from dams.
“All over western NSW and other areas dams are going dry and as they do the dams become boggy, and as they do, kangaroos go in for a drink and get bogged and die,” he said.
“Those roos have to be removed before they putrefy and pollute the water supply.”
A photo recently posted by the association shows more than 90 kangaroo carcasses collected from one dam.
The association is calling for a government intervention and a greater commercial harvest.
“As effectively owners of kangaroos, I believe they bear a responsibility to manage their impact on the environment and on farming families,” Mr Gall said.
Wildlife ‘brought drought impact forward’
Earlier this year in response to drought, the NSW Government made it easier for landholders to apply for a licence to cull kangaroos and removed a requirement that kangaroos be tagged and left in paddocks.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Niall Blair said the changes would “maintain animal welfare standards and economically sustainable kangaroo populations”.
“If we don’t manage this situation we will start to see … kangaroos starving and suffering, ultimately leading to a major animal welfare crisis,” he said.
But Mr Gall believes a greater commercial kangaroo harvest is needed to reduce the impact of the wildlife, which he argues “brought the impact of drought forward by six months”.
He said compliance costs, minimal returns for shooters, and the condition of the roos meant they were currently not worth harvesting.
Animal group says kangaroos should be protected
Advocacy group Australian Society for Kangaroos, which claims to be “dedicated to the victims of the largest wildlife slaughter in the world, which is the commercial kangaroo meat and skins industry”, said every effort should be made to preserve the kangaroo population.
Society president Nikki Sutterby said kangaroos should be protected and preserved, “not killed for pet food and sport shoes”.
“We’re looking at a dire situation in western NSW … where roo numbers had already crashed significantly between 2016 and 2017,” she said.
“If there are any kangaroos left we should be protecting those kangaroos, because if we don’t we are going to see mass extinction of kangaroos on a local and regional basis in NSW.
“If they’re worried about their welfare and their suffering if they are starving to death … wouldn’t you just put that animal out of its misery?”
Issue to be raised with drought coordinator
Mr Gall said farmers had acted responsibly by destocking their properties due to drought.
“I don’t think you’ll find anyone putting the rams out with the ewes just at the moment,” he said.
“Pastoralists are just trying to keep their core stock alive, and putting sheep in lamb is not consistent with trying to keep them alive at the moment.”
The association is expected to raise concerns about kangaroo management with national drought coordinator Stephen Day at a meeting in Broken Hill this week.
Mr Gall said until it rained, graziers would continue to retrieve carcasses across the far west.
“It is happening at multiple dams at all properties all over western NSW. It’s an unpleasant job to have to do,” he said.
“It’s a hard job to have to drag kangaroos out of the mud and up the bank … it’s frustrating and time consuming.
“Landholders don’t want to see kangaroos disappear entirely from the landscape, they just want numbers reduced to a sustainable level.”