Kangaroo and wallaby population control
Ratification Date: 01 Feb 2009
Population management of large macropods (kangaroos, wallabies, euro’s etc) is necessary to prevent circumstances where there could be significant welfare or environmental issues arising from overpopulation.
Management and control methods must be humane and consistent with legislation relating to kangaroo and wallaby protection and control.
Shooting is the preferred method of control, but other methods may sometimes be required.
There must be heavy penalties for contravention of legislation relating to kangaroo and wallaby protection and control.
Research into alternative methods of population management, such as fertility control is also supported.
In some circumstances it is appropriate to reduce the population of kangaroos and wallabies, usually when animals are present at very high densities, resources are limited, and there is ensuing environmental degradation and/or starvation of the kangaroos as resources are depleted. Common examples include unmanaged populations confined within fenced areas or wild populations in times of drought. Starvation is a significant animal welfare issue. Environmental degradation and animal welfare can be addressed largely by appropriate management, a key element of which is population control.
Options for population control
The options for population control of kangaroos and wallabies are lethal (usually shooting) or non-lethal using either capture and translocation or some form of fertility control, or a combination of the last two. All control methods must be humane.
The control of kangaroos and wallabies by harvesting or culling involves managing sustainable use of natural resources, minimising environmental degradation, reducing impacts on grazing and cropping, and ensuring animal welfare. This policy should be read in conjunction with AVA policies in Part 16 of the Policy Compendium (Environment and conservation).
The following guidelines should be observed for the lethal control of kangaroos and wallabies.
- Decisions to use, harvest or cull kangaroos and wallabies must be based on objective scientific data.
- Any method used must be rapid and humane, with the preferred technique being shooting by an accredited operator using a high-velocity rifle, as described in the National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies (2008). Shooting kangaroos and wallabies for population control is considered the most acceptable on animal welfare grounds.
- Animals must be shot through the head at night, with the aid of a spotlight. If an animal is suspected of being alive after being shot, every reasonable effort must be made to locate it and kill it immediately.
- Animals must not be shot from a moving vehicle or platform unless specific authorisation is included in the permit issued by the licensing authority.
- Pouch young must also be killed by a shot or heavy blow to the head to cause instant death.
There is a community perception that non-lethal control methods are more humane than shooting, but this is not necessarily the case. Capture and translocation of kangaroos and wallabies is difficult and traumatic. The loss of some animals is highly likely, with mortality rates of 5–10% being common with the use of dart rifles or other means of capture, with or without some form of herding into enclosures constructed for the purpose. Smaller individuals may be caught by hand or with hoop nets, and in some situations a draw-string trap may be used to capture animals moving under fences. Causes of death can include direct trauma following impact with fences or other fixed objects, post-capture myopathy and losses during transport from injuries, hyperthermia and dehydration. There is often difficulty in selecting a suitable release site that will not pose potential ill effects for resident kangaroo and wallaby populations.
Surgical and non-surgical methods of fertility control can be used, but as none is currently deliverable by remote means, it is not possible to use them on most free-living macropod populations. Fertility control does not achieve an initial reduction in the size of the population, which is required in many cases, but may be useful for ongoing reproductive management of the remaining animals. The only way to achieve an initial reduction in numbers is to cull or move the animals elsewhere, with all the difficulties discussed above.
Other relevant policies and position statements
Part 16 Policy compendium: Environment and conservation
- Australian Government. Department of the Environment, Water, Heritage and the Arts. (2008) National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies – draft for public consultation, May 2008.
- Roberts et al (2007) Darting Eastern grey kangaroos: a protocol for free-ranging populations
- Coulson G. (2007) A safe and selective draw-string trap to capture kangaroos moving under fences. Wildlife Research 23(5):621–627.
Date of ratification by AVA Board February 2009