by Maria Taylor
An autopsy on a young male kangaroo, recovered by an activist from an ACT culling pit at Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve on 3 June, indicates the victim was shot, shattering its jaw, then bashed over the head with a heavy object causing skull fractures.
The autopsy report, by Palerang veterinarian and forensic medical officer Howard Ralph, says the kangaroo was finally stabbed in the neck causing it to choke to death on its own blood.
Dr Ralph told the Bulletin it was one of the most horrible things he had seen in his veterinary and medical experience. “The kangaroo would have been conscious after the first shot. I’ve seen it before. They are often standing and awake with a totally shattered jaw. It likely suffered severe pain and distress during the progressive attack, until the final asphyxiation.”
The kangaroo was taken by an Australian Society for Kangaroos (ASK) activist from a burial pit for shot kangaroos at the nature reserve. 1,150 kangaroos were killed across ACT reserves in June of this year in the third year of a so-called ‘scientific’ culling program. In 2010 and 2011 almost 4,000 kangaroos were killed at Mulligan’s Flat and Goorooyaroo Nature Reserve near new housing estates.
Together with a large kill at the Majura defence training area in 2009 under advice from ACT government officials, the culls have caused the death or “removal” (as the ACT puts it) of at least 15,000 kangaroos since 2008.
While the ACT government maintains that its kangaroo kills are humanely executed and strictly controlled by conservation officers, Dr Ralph noted that the mistreatment of the animal he autopsied is highly unlikely to have been a one-off given the scale of the killing program.
He also says the whole killing routine is cruelly stressful and fear-inducing. “Kangaroos are not bricks, they are particularly prone to stress and suffering when the mob is interfered with.”
For the first time activists also uncovered a pit at Kama reserve near the Pinnacle where they photographed kangaroos mis-shot in the face and neck and partially decapitated joeys. Joeys are either decapitated or clubbed to death in ‘culls’ and commercial ‘harvests’.
The ACT’s new mandatory code of practice, that is supposed to enforce the least-inhumane killing practices if killing were necessary, has been ‘under review’
for the past two years. No enforceable code is in place. “What possible excuse can there be for this code to still be under review two years and two slaughters later?” asked Lara Drew, President of Animal Liberation ACT, in an August letter to Chief Minister Katy Gallagher.
The RSPCA ACT CEO Michael Linke was unreachable for comment but a staffer said that Eastern Grey Kangaroos are classified as a pest species in the ACT and the RSPCA is not allowed to care for them. This is not legally correct regarding the pest status, but may shed some light on events in the ACT.