AS BRITISH ANIMAL welfare organisation VIVA announces its latest success in dissuading UK supermarkets from selling kangaroo meat two dozen prominent national and international welfare organisations have joined forces on an open letter explaining why Australians should stop looking the other way and stand up against the ethically bankrupt, cruel and unsanitary trade in Australia’s national icon for meat and skins.
Perhaps you didn’t know we in Australia host the world’s largest wildlife slaughter (continuing 150 years of colonial persecution of this totally unique, gentle and family-focused native grazer – called pest management by government departments and some landholders).
At the same time Humane Society International is asking that you join a consumer campaign to persuade Coles and Woolworths to stop stocking kangaroo meat products for humans and pets. See article ‘Ask supermarkets to stop stocking kangaroo cruelty’ under Environment category for details.
We bring you below the whole sad story (accompanied by source material) in the welfare organisations’ open letter.
AN OPEN LETTER ABOUT KANGAROOS
WE THE UNDERSIGNED URGE THE PUBLIC, LAWMAKERS & DECISION-MAKERS TO CONSIDER THE CONSERVATION, ANIMAL WELFARE AND HUMAN HEALTH RISKS CAUSED BY THE COMMERCIAL AND NON-COMMERCIAL SHOOTING OF KANGAROOS.
We are concerned that claims of health, sustainability and humaneness used to promote continuation and expansion of shooting kangaroos are industry-biased and can be scientifically disproven.
We believe that scientific evidence demonstrates that the slaughter of kangaroos, the largest commercial killing of land-based wildlife on the planet, is putting at high risk kangaroo populations and people’s health, and causes profound suffering to kangaroos and their young.
SPECIFIC AREAS OF CONCERN INCLUDE:
- Loss of habitat, urban development, agricultural practices and continuing industrial-scale slaughter eliminates kangaroos across vast regions where historical records described them as once widespread and abundant.
- Kangaroos grow and breed slowly and have high juvenile mortality. For example, a Grey Kangaroo doe can produce up to 8 independent joeys in her lifetime, [1, 2] with just two likely to survive to independence. 
- Maximum wild population growth rates average ~10% in optimal conditions,  with annual declines of up to 60% during drought recorded. [5, 6, 7] It is biologically impossible for kangaroo populations to increase rapidly.
- Shooting quotas of 15–20% or more  of population estimates exceed actual kangaroo population growth rates.
- Analysis shows critically flawed kangaroo survey methodologies systematically inflate population estimates from which commercial shooting quotas are then over-allocated. 
- Government survey data and commercial shooting statistics illustrate declining populations and landscapes now significantly depleted of kangaroos. 
- Shooting occurs away from scrutiny and in darkness, when non-lethal shots are inevitable, often causing horrific injuries.
- Evidence suggests 4–40% [11, 12] commercially shot animals are not shot directly in the brain but in the neck or body. This equates to between 65,284–652,839 animals mis-shot in 2015. 
- Unknown further numbers of mis-shot kangaroos are left to die in the field by commercial and non-commercial shooters.
- The national Code of Practice requires shooters to shoot at-foot joeys, and decapitate or “crush the skull and destroy the brain” of pouch young. 
- Research confirms most dependent at-foot joeys are left in the field  to suffer exposure, starvation or predation, and that pouch joeys’ heads are generally swung against vehicles.
- Joeys killed or left to die are not recorded. Around 8 million dependent joeys are estimated to have died due to commercial shooting in the period 2000–2009. 
- Over 110,000 joeys died from commercial shooting alone in 2015 based on reported figures. 
- 75% of emerging human pathogens originate in wildlife. 
- Kangaroo is a wild bush meat sold in supermarkets and restaurants. It is not tested  for the many human-harming pathogens it harbours. 
- Wild kangaroos are shot and butchered in the field without supervision.
- They are transported on unrefrigerated open trucks exposed to dust and flies and frequently high ambient temperatures.
- There have been repeated findings of contaminated kangaroo meat over many years. 
- In 2014 Russia banned kangaroo meat imports for a third time due to pathogenic contamination. [22, 23]
- Acetic acid is routinely used to cleanse the meat of systemic contamination. 
— This material was compiled by the volunteers at www.kangaroosmatter.org
 Dawson, T. (2012). Kangaroos: Biology of the Largest Marsupials Cornell University Press. Ithaca, US. Based on Table 6.1
 Bilton, A & Croft, D. (2004). Lifetime Reproductive Success in a Population of Female Red Kangaroos Macropus Rufus in the Sheep Rangelands of Western New South Wales: Environmental Effects and Population Dynamics Australian Mammalogy 26: 45–60.
 Arnold GW, et al. (1991). Population ecology of western grey kangaroos in a remnant of Wandoo Woodland at Bakers Hill, southern Western Australia Wildlife Research 18(5) 561–575, CSIRO Publishing, Melbourne.
 Arnold, et al, op cit. *Arnold’s grey kangaroo population growth rates equate to x7.86% pa over 4 years, and then x8.47% pa over a subsequent 6 years. Red Kangaroos are slightly higher.
 Robertson, G. (1986). The Mortality of Kangaroos in Drought Australian Wildlife Research 13(3) 349–354.
 Newsome AE, Stephens DR, Shipway AK, (1967). Effect of a long drought on the abundance of Red Kangaroos in central Australia CSIRO Wildlife Rescue 12: 1–8.
 Caughley, G. Grigg, GG. Smith L. (1985). The effect of drought on kangaroo populations. Journal of Wildlife Management 49: 679–685.
 State Kangaroo Management Plans: http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/trading/commercial/management-plans
 Cairns, S, et al. A report to the New South Wales Department of Environment and Climate Change on the consultancy: ‘Kangaroo Monitoring: Hunter and Central Tablelands Commercial Harvest Zones Design and Analysis of Helicopter Survey (2009); Cairns S & Bearup D, A report to the NSW OEH on the consultancy: Design and analysis of helicopter surveys of kangaroo populations in the Central tablelands North & South management zones (2012); See also transect locations in western NSW, Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia, and Mjadwesch, R (2013) Letter to NSW Scientific Committee. http://bit.ly/KangaroosAtRisk_Mjadwesch2003_NSWSC
 Mjadwesch, op cit.
 RSPCA Australia (2002). A Survey of the Extent of Compliance with the Requirements of the Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos http://www.environment.gov.au/node/16659.
 Ben‐Ami, D et al. The welfare ethics of the commercial killing of free-ranging kangaroos: an evaluation of the benefits and costs of the industry (2014). http://bit.ly/2z03uIc Explanation of methodologies: http://bit.ly/2ByJ4eX
 Australian Government Kangaroo and wallaby population, quota and harvest statistics 2015 (2016 not available). http://www.environment.gov.au/biodiversity/wildlife-trade/natives/wild-harvest
 Australian Government. National Code of Practice for the Humane Shooting of Kangaroos and Wallabies for Commercial Purposes [and for Non-Commercial Purposes] http://bit.ly/1zEeFT2
 McLeod, S and Sharp, T. Improving the humaneness of commercial kangaroo harvesting (2014) Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation http://www.agrifutures.com.au/wp-content/uploads/publications/13-116.pdf
 Ben-Ami, et al, op cit.
 Australian Government Department of the Environment and Energy, Population, quota and harvest statistics, 2015. http://www.environment.gov.au/system/files/pages/d3f58a89-4fdf-43ca-8763-bbfd6048c303/files/kangaroo-statistics-new.pdf (Joeys calculated using standard constants for fecundity (Dawson 2012) and survivorship (Arnold (1991), Banks (2002). See Mjadwesch 2011 http://www.kangaroosatrisk.net/2-biology–population-ecology.html).
 Taylor, LH, et al. Risk factors for human disease emergence Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society Lon B 2001 356 983–989. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/11829994_Risk_Factors_for_Human_Disease_Emergence
 Rural, Regional Affairs and Transport Legislation Senate Committee, Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Food Division, Q290(7) (Senator Rhiannon), Supplementary Budget Estimates Oct 2012, Australian Senate, http://bit.ly/2ACunD8
 Ladds, P. Pathology of Macropods [from Pathology of Australian Native Wildlife (Ladds 2009)] Australian Registry of Wildlife Health, Taronga Conservation Society Australia. http://bit.ly/2BIXRDX
 Rural, Regional Affairs & Transport Legislation Senate Committee, Department of Agriculture, Exports Division, Q104 (Senator Lee Rhiannon), Supplementary Budget Estimates May 2017, Australian Senate. http://bit.ly/KangaroosAtRisk_EUContamination2013-15
 Federal Service for Veterinary and Phytosanitory Surveillance news (25 July 2013). The Rosselkhoznadzor Detained a Kangaroo Meat Consignment of a Questionable Quality. http://www.fsvps.ru/fsvps/news/7137.html?_language=en
 Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Exports Division, Q60 (Senator Rhiannon), Additional Budget Estimates Feb 2015, Australian Senate. http://www.kangaroosatrisk.org/uploads/1/0/8/3/10831721/2015feb_rhiannon_rrat_exports_contaminationinaust_russia_q60.pdf
 Macro Investments (Macro Meats) Letter to shooters (19 May 2012). http://www.kangaroosatrisk.org/uploads/1/0/8/3/10831721/20120819_macroletter_aceticacid.png
Rural and Regional Affairs and Transport Committee, Dept of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Food Division, Q232 (Senator Heffernan), Supplementary Budget Estimates Oct 2012, Australian Senate. http://www.kangaroosatrisk.org/uploads/1/0/8/3/10831721/2012oct_heffernan_rrat_agric_fooddiv_acetic.pdf
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