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Citizens condemn Canberra cull

Media Release

Wednesday 14 May 2014

Regional Friends of Wildlife (RFOW), a citizen group from Canberra and surrounding region, strongly condemns the ACT government’s intention to shoot kangaroos for the 5th year in the city’s nature parks, this year targeting 1600 animals with additional hundreds of pouch young bashed to death.

“This cruel annual slaughter of kangaroo families is unethical and immoral. There is no evidence whatsoever of any benefit that has accrued over the past four years despite government claims of protecting endangered species and other unnamed plants and animals by killing kangaroos,” says RFOW spokesperson Philip Machin.

Department of Territory and Municipal Services (TAMS) Minister Shane Rattenbury on his Greens website says of the Japanese whale hunt: ‘Having been to the Southern Ocean, I know just how cruel and unnecessary this hunt is’.  There is no evidence before him that killing kangaroo parents and joeys is any less cruel and unnecessary,” says Machin.

RFOW recently presented the ACT government with an extensive dossier of information from official records and scientific criticism since 2009 that shows the ACT kangaroo killing program has no credible scientific underpinnings. It shows a remarkable absence of evaluation or monitoring of this program, as good science would require.

“This lethal management approach costs taxpayers at least $300,000 per year at a time of belt-tightening and fiscal uncertainty, for no good reason,” said Machin. He said the dossier also provided Chief Minister Gallagher and Ministers Rattenbury and Corbell with evidence of the cruelty and suffering inflicted on highly social kangaroo mobs by the annual killing.

“Our position is that in the Canberra Nature Park, the culling of kangaroos is simply unnecessary.”

The dossier shows that as well as overestimating the kangaroo population the government has failed to acknowledge inward migration of kangaroos to culled areas from other reserves and farmland. This means there can be no reliable number reduction until there are no more kangaroos in the surrounding areas.

ACT’s claim that it is saving threatened species just ‘PR’

The dossier exposes numerous unsupported, misleading and contradictory statements made by TAMS and its science advisers in its statements to media and the public. Many of these misleading statements emerged in the course of TAMS’ evidence to the ACT Administrative Appeals Tribunal (ACAT) in 2009 and 2013.

“In particular there is TAMS’ assertion that ‘culling’ will help protect threatened species and the government ecologist’s admission in 2013 that this was just “public relations,” said Machin.

Independent ecologist Ray Mjadwesch, with extensive field experience involving endangered species and their threats, gave evidence at the 2013 ACAT against the killing licenses sought by the TAMS.  In terms of yet another cull in 2014 Mjadwesch says:

 There is not a single threatened species known to be impacted by kangaroos in the ACT, in fact it was demonstrated that several threatened species in the ACT benefited from kangaroo grazing.

“The TAMS spokesperson at the ACAT Dr Fletcher did not even attempt to contest these facts in the hearing, however at the conclusion of the hearing [Parks administrator] Mr [Daniel] Inglesias still called the decision ‘a win for threatened species’. A bold and blatant misrepresentation of the hearing’s findings.”

Other expert opinion from the dossier:

Dr Dror Ben Ami of THINKK at University of Technology Sydney wrote to Minister Rattenbury in 2013:

Eastern Grey Kangaroos are keystone species for the grasslands. They are responsible for habitat structuring, nutrient cycling, and other grassland species rely on their presence… Records (since the 1990s) indicate stable densities of 2 to 4 kangaroos per hectare (in the ACT).

The ACT target densities of 0.5 to 1 kangaroo per hectare appear to have no research base and government testimony at the 2013 ACAT admitted it was based on “guesswork”.

Media Contact: Philip Machin

machin4 [at] bigpond.com

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